“The Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles continue to cope with Peak Season congestion, but operations are still sluggish. “While we were not blind-sided by the volumes coming in now, terminal operators may not have expected such a dramatic ebb and flow,” said POLA Director of Media Relations Phillip Sanfield in an interview. It’s a difficult balancing act, with the rate of cargo discharge being the main problem.”
“Sanfield noted that the Federal Maritime Commission had recently staged a regional meeting in Southern California, and came to the conclusion that many other ports in the nation may face similar challenges in the future. This was an obervation shared by DHL Global Forwarding, which sent its shippers a recent update on congestion at the Ports of Norfolk, VA and the Port of New York/New Jersey:
“There are a number of factors contributing to the current state of international logistics in the U.S. that directly impact marine terminal and inland rail ramps,” said DHL in its briefing.
Here are the main reasons:
- An increase in import and export volumes associated with an improving U.S. economy.
- The use of larger ships transporting higher container volumes which are having a direct impact on ocean and rail terminal infrastructure resulting in congestion.
- The impact of government regulations (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act – Hours of Service Rule) on the number of hours drivers can safely operate their trucks.
- Fewer entrants to the trucking job market and a high driver turnover due to low wages and quality of life standards
- Severe impact on driver productivity and the ability to deliver and retrieve cargo from ocean terminals due to a chronic chassis shortage and dislocation at ocean and rail terminals
“John W. Slangerup, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, told LM that he is working closely with the POLA to address the most immediate problems. “The biggest issue here is the dislocation of chassis,” he said. “Flexi-Van and DCLI, are adding chassis to their fleets, and we hope that this will be one solution.” Slangerup added that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union has been very supportive, as well. “These dockworkers are still without a contract, but they’ve been performing at the highest level possible,” he said. “As bad as this experience has been, we may all be learning a great deal about avoiding something like this in the future.”
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