Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Warehousing Group Sets Up Emergency Space Register to Alleviate Problem of Port Surcharges

There Are Ways to Avoid Quay Rents Without Government Assistance
Shipping News Feature

UK – Whilst many cargo owners are looking to the government for assistance with quay rents and other port charges as the pandemic eats into capital, the head of the United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA), CEO Peter Ward, thinks perhaps another approach might be needed to ameliorate their problems.

Ward is at pains to point out that there are alternatives to leaving containers or cargo sitting at the quayside in the ports where charges are inevitably higher than elsewhere with the paramount importance being not to create a bottleneck. He points out that the issue is not about real estate and empty buildings, but fully equipped and serviced operational space that can be taken up instantly on a plug-and-play basis. He comments:

“Port charges are intended to keep cargo moving through the ports for good reason. An appeal to government for financial assistance to keep freight at the port is not only futile, it’s unhelpful in terms of keeping supply chains flowing.

”There is still warehousing space available, albeit only some 10% of potential capacity, and UKWA has set up an Emergency Space Register specifically to assist cargo owners in identifying appropriate space quickly and cost-effectively.

“There are signs that the government is preparing to allow certain retailers, such as the large DIY sheds, to reopen at some point over the coming weeks. If that happens, obviously more warehousing space will become available as outbound flows recommence. Hopefully the government will give us sufficient time to plan for this, so that warehouse operators, drivers and so forth can be brought back from furlough into the workforce as soon as possible.

“There are real commercial risks to storing goods, in terms of ownership and liability, that should not be the responsibility of ports or shipping lines. Once cleared through customs, loaded containers can be stored by our members under UKWA legal contracts which state that the ownership, insurance liability and risk sit with the cargo owner. We are keen to work together with all parties to offer a solution for cargo owners that also helps terminals and shipping lines keep boxes moving, while protecting them from unnecessary commercial risk.”

Many shippers and importers and indeed freight forwarding agents remain ignorant as to their responsibilities should goods be damaged or stolen when in storage, a factor often overlooked, and one resolved by having a proper contract with a bona fide warehousing company and the requisite insurance. If the crisis continues and space for consignments or fully loaded containers be required the UKWA says its members are equipped to offer inland off dock storage facilities.

Photo: Courtesy of Capacity LLC.