Monday, July 2, 2018

Freight Forwarding Interests Disappointed by Container Port Refusal to Compensate for Delays

New IT System at Felixstowe Costs Supply Chain Users Dearly
Shipping News Feature
UK – Whilst the Port of Felixstowe is keen to point out the improvement in performance after the recent delays to services caused by the unsuccessful integration of the new terminal management system (TMS) which was installed at the beginning of June, others are less than enthusiastic about the lack of responsibility shown by the port operator for the incident which has cost road haulage operators, container shipping lines and freight forwarders alike time, credibility and money.

Hutchison Ports has apologised for the delays and inconvenience and the consequences for supply chains, whilst saying that, despite the difficulties, nearly 110,000 TEUs have been handled across the quays since the new system went live. The company said last week that it had employed both subcontract labour and equipment to mitigate the problems and stated that volumes handled were at 86% of normal levels.

Whilst container lines Hamburg Süd and Seago both switched services away from Felixstowe to Southampton to mitigate the problems many customers are thoroughly fed up at the delays, and the mood was captured by freight forwarding representatives, the British International Freight Association (BIFA) which has warned its members that they are unlikely to receive any compensation from the port’s owners, despite discussions between the two. Robert Keen, BIFA Director General, commented:

“Having had a meeting with the port’s senior management, it is clear that the only companies that might receive any compensation are shipping lines. The port authority has made it clear to us that it does not consider BIFA members to be direct customers of the port, and would not be willing to have a discussion about possible compensation for the damage caused and the increased costs that have been incurred by those members.

“It is astonishing that a port authority, which owns the UK’s busiest container port and has been happy to market it as the ‘Port of Britain’, implemented a new and vitally important system with apparently no fall-back position if it went wrong, and it is very disappointing that it is not even prepared to discuss any kind of compensation for such a failure in customer service.”

Speaking to the Handy Shipping Guide local road haulage operators said the ongoing inefficiencies had caused them many problems, particularly in the first few days after inception of the new TMS when drivers queued for several hours without either refreshments or facilities.

Photo: The giant OOCL Hong Kong approaches the Felixstowe berths in happier days.