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Supply chains are facing ‘an unprecedented congestion crisis’ as boxes of uncollected cargo pile up at ports.


Loadstar reports social distancing has prevented dockers from being able to go to ports to unload cargo from shippers and truckers from collecting import cargo from container terminals and freight stations.


Lloyds Loading List also reports a build-up of delayed orders arriving from China in recent weeks, as restrictions began to be lifted in China but implemented in the West.  

Major shippers including Maersk and CMA CGM are taking steps to avoid congestion in ports with Maersk calling on customers to minimise port stays and the detention of containers to free up the flow of goods going in and out of ports.


Ports under “intense pressure”


UK ports are now under “intense pressure”, says the chief executive of the British Ports Association Richard Ballantyne.


He said:


“The total impact of this pandemic is yet to be seen, but ports are already under intense pressure, from both a downturn in customer activity, as well as pressure to offer rent holidays and reduce harbour dues.”


The BPA cite shipping specialists as forecasting a 20% reduction in world trade in the first quarter of 2020 and have called for financial support to mitigate this. 


They have also called on government to provide PPE and testing to ensure port workers can keep trade flowing. 


Ballantyne described port workers, who have been designated ‘key workers’, as the “unsung heroes” of the pandemic.