Monday, October 1, 2018

Indonesian Disaster Cuts Off Major Ocean Links After Earthquakes and Tsunami

Global Port News as Nigerians Go Back to Work and US Dockers Walk Out
Shipping News Feature
INDONESIA – The horrific events in the country after an earthquake and subsequent tsunami left hundreds dead and many missing and homeless, has devastated the Port of Palu in Sulawesi after two major shocks measuring 6.1 and 7.7 on the Richter scale centred near the central Sulawesi town of Donggala and the provincial capital of Palu brought a large part of the country to its knees and created a logistical nightmare.

Although reports from local agents say the main port has not been substantially damaged the same cannot be said of infrastructure, specifically cranes and other essential equipment. Roads leading to the port are said to be in a chaotic state and there appears no possibility of a return to anything like normality in the short term.

Because of the lack of communication with the region at the time of writing the Port of Donggala, 35 kilometres north of Palu, is currently cut off and there are no reports from that area with both communications and electrical supplies non existent or barely operational at best. The airport at Palu is only open to receive emergency supplies and service the relief efforts by NGO’s and the military. Weblinks to the Indonesian facilities are currently inoperative.

NIGERIA – The indefinite strike called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) last week, and likely to affect both Lagos and Apapa, was called off on Tuesday (October 2nd) after the Monday Public Holiday celebrating the country’s 58th anniversary of independence.

KENYA – Congestion at Mombasa may be alleviated to some degree in future by the commencement of double stacked container trains, the first of which headed out of the port for the Nairobi Inland Clearance Depot on Sunday. The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) says the move will help the problem of a build-up of cargo which has dogged the port for three months.

The KPA reports over 5,000 TEU per week have been passing through but importers have apparently been warned that failure to collect goods within 14 days will warrant their destruction. Critics say the train capacity is a red herring to draw attention away from the main problems after the KPA and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) moved the goalposts by changing the storage allowance times and increasing tariffs.

Now the two organisations say they are waiving the charges for storage and customs warehouse rent to clear the backlog, but hence the threat of destruction if long stay cargo owners do not comply within a fortnight.

US – The Teamsters Union called for workers to launch the 16th strike in five years starting today after repeated calls to ban the practice of ‘indentured servitude’. The union claims truck drivers employed by XPO Logistics and NFI Industries serving the Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach and nearby rail yards are misclassified as independent contractors.

The Teamsters says multiple agencies and courts at both the state and federal levels have determined that drivers are, in fact, employees and therefore protected by employment and labour laws. The union intends to take industrial action picketing at company facilities, marine terminals, rail yards, customer warehouses and distribution centre plus leafleting at customers’ retail outlets. Actions are planned for the greater Los Angeles area, San Diego, Inland Empire, and High Desert.

Photo: People search for and retrieve bodies from the waters of Palu port.