THE LONG ARM OF CONGESTION

December, 2014

123The effects of containers stacking up at West Coast ports is far-reaching. Inland rail depots in Chicago and Memphis are experiencing inconsistent surges of cargo. There are not enough trucks to move the containers out in the limited free time available, and the winter weather is not helping.

Container vessels, 20 at the latest count, sit outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The longer these ships sit, the more issues it creates downstream for other ports both in the US and abroad. Berthing times at busy ports around the world are very difficult to come by, and when they are missed, it could be days before a slot opens up. It has become such a problem that Evergreen is dropping Los Angeles and Oakland port calls from its NUE service.

It has also been surmised the lack of fluidity in containers and vessel schedules, will likely result in container shortages in Asia…just in time for the pre-Chinese New Year push.

Let us not forget the long-term effects on the psyche of the West Coast shipper. The congestion and labor unrest continue to tarnish the reputation of West Coast ports and drive business to other gateways on the East and Gulf Coasts as well as Canada and Mexico.