Friday, June 18, 2021

Parlous State of Chinese Ports Prompts Action Plan from Global Container Carrier

Virus Continues to Decimate Supply Chain
Shipping News Feature

CHINA – There are few companies better placed to comment on the current situation regarding Covid-19 and its effect on container shipping than Danish giant Maersk, and this week the company has issued an update on the parlous state at the Port of Yantian.

The disease has recently re-emerged in the city which has had a significant effect on one of the busiest Asian seaports. Admittedly after a cessation of container export movements for six days the Yantian Port Authorities have announced that productivity is gradually set to increase as more workers return and more berths reopen, but Maersk says the damage has already been done.

The current estimated wait is over a fortnight, causing many carriers to divert vessels to other ports. In total, over 300 sailings from all liners will omit Yantian and for Maersk, 19 of its mainline services have been affected. Fighting to get reliability back into operations and services back on schedule after the Suez incident in March, the port congestion in Yantian, with neighbouring ports Shekou and Nansha also affected, is an added pain at a time where global supply chains are already stretched.

The shipping line considers that the trend is worrying, and unceasing congestion is becoming a global problem. Due to Covid-19 and a significant volume push since the end of last year, terminals are becoming global bottlenecks, be it at berths, yards or gating out cargo, and it’s continuing throughout the logistics chain, in the warehouses and distribution centres, with numbers on the rise.

The most prominent bottleneck right now is Yantian given the sheer size of it, with it being the third largest terminal in the world, but still there are many other ports where a one- or two-day wait is becoming the norm, even if arriving on time. Maersk has formulated an action plan to help shippers through the problems this month but mitigation is a poor solution for what is proving a long term problem.