Industry press has covered the congestion at the nation’s marine terminals. While quite a bit of time has been spent talking about Los Angeles/ Long Beach and New York/New Jersey, at the expense of sounding like an a bitter middle child, Oakland has had its share of issues too. It began before Thanksgiving and continues today.
The traditional fourth quarter agricultural export peak season collided with the import pre-tariff push and created an abnormal and unhealthy drain on resources. And, we did not recover in time for the customary pre-Chinese New Year import deluge. So, where are we now?
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Closed yard locations are far too common. With space tight on dock, as marine terminals unload vessels, they put containers into unavailable yard locations. These containers may sit in the undeliverable locations for several days before being moved to a working yard location. Once truly available, a terminal appointment must be secured and additional free time must be negotiated. Not only does this process demand considerable resources to manage but it also creates a bunching of containers as last week’s containers and this week’s containers become available simultaneously.
A general slowness envelopes the marine terminals between Thanksgiving and Presidents’ Day as seasoned longshoremen go on vacation. Marine terminals are staffed with folks not quite as fast or efficient as the steadies, and it shows.