Unclaimed Containers Create Bottleneck
One of the big issues in moving shipments from the port is a backlog of containers that haven’t been cleared or those that have been but have not been returned and authorities are considering strategies that may end up hitting delinquent importers in the pocketbook. Resolving these and other challenges was the focus of much attention at Thursday’s CIRO meeting.
The container problem is two-pronged – they take up space and get in the way of unloading of new cargo, and they also must be returned to the shipper in the US or elsewhere to repeat the process.
Officials note that there is a local, regional and international shortage of containers, which is compounded locally by their being used for post-hurricane storage or by shippers taking too long to clear and return them.
Government recently doubled its grace period for waiving of penalty for storage at the port from five to ten days, but now it is looking at increasing the penalty to something with a little more clout. Storage rates are based on the tonnage and storage time. For instance, a 20-foot contained will incur a $45 daily charge, and a 40-foot contained will be billed $90 each day it is uncollected.
In the meantime, Port Authorities warnedOther challenges that continue to face the trucking companies handling transportation include the shortage of heavy equipment and qualified drivers. All parties concerned are working to resolve these issues – the Port Authority, Thompson Shipping and Seaboard Marine.
Increasing the number of ships that ply into George Town Harbour is also taking place, but movements within the port must be addressed as a matter of priority.
A related problem with regard to increasing number of ships is that cruiseships pose a potential conflict as cargo ships cannot be unloaded while tenders are transporting visitors from ship to dock.
And then there are the routine problems, cars are normally shipped without gasoline, which has to be arranged to drive the cars, which may have additional problems, such as dead batteries, etc.
In spite of these issues, port officials note that they are now handling almost four times the usual tonnage of imports. This is being made possible by operating 22 hours each day (up from the more recent 12-hour shifts).
In order to alleviate the processing bottleneck, the port has also extended the collection hours at the port warehouse to 8:00pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for goods and dedicated containers.
To solve the container problem, businesses and persons holding containers are asked to notify trucking company to collect them, as well as the chassis on which they are towed, as soon as possible.
The Authority reminds importing companies and individuals to check and collect their goods as soon as possible to relieve the congestion at the port warehouse.