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US port congestion getting worse, says Woodland

[ August 19, 2021   //   ]

UK-based forwarder Woodland International is reporting continued disruption to container movements in the US, with West Coast ports nearing record levels of congestion and the East Coast following suit.

It said a surge in Covid cases had led to staff shortages, increased congestion and a continued lack of equipment, with the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach bearing the brunt.

Ships at berth or anchor in the two ports hit a record high during August 2021 with 125 ships, beating the first quarter high of 113.

It warned that with the addition of new transpacific routes, these numbers are likely to continue to rise in the near future.

Woodland added that Los Angeles and Long Beach were in fact more congested than China’s Ningbo and Shanghai.

Queues of ships are also building up on the east coast of North America as summer vacations coupled with high temperatures and an increase in Covid cases affected labour availability, yard turn times and productivity in New York and New Jersey.

With a large volume of import cargo, chassis issues were a key, and continuing, issue. Weather problems in Georgia also exacerbating congestion, with the port of Savannah affected by closure of the Savannah River, leading to anchorage numbers climbing well into double figures.

Lack of labour and equipment across the industry is continuing to slow down operations as a result of the worsening shortage of space, containers, chassis and drivers. The recent surge in Covid cases, is affecting workforce availability across the US, further adding to mounting pressures.

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