CENTRO INTERNAZIONALE STUDI CONTAINERS
ANNO XXXVIII - Numero OTTOBRE 2020
IMPORTERS ANGRY AS UK BOX PORTS BUCKLE UNDER 'ABNORMAL
DP World's London Gateway and Southampton container hubs are
experiencing terminal congestion that threatens to further stymie
the supply of holiday season products to the market.
Vessel-working and landside delays at the UK's second and
third-biggest container ports will add to the misery for importers
hit by severe delays in recent months at the largest box port,
Last week, CMA CGM announced it would levy a port conge-stion
surcharge of $150 per teu on all imports via Southampton from 1
November, claiming its operational costs at the UK south coast port
had increased "significantly over the past weeks".
Today, Hapag-Lloyd advised its customers it was "experiencing
congestion in the berthing plan and container yard" at London
"In recent weeks, this has resulted in several port
omissions, cut-and-runs and move-count restrictions," it said,
adding that bad weather, Covid-secure measures, transport shortages
and "abnormal increases in volume" at London Gateway were
The carrier warned that, although it expected some improve-ments
at the facility, it expected the congestion to continue until
Meanwhile, haulier and forwarding sources The Loadstar spoke to
today claimed that the congestion at London Gateway and Southampton
was a knock-on result of the well-documented VBS delays at
And David Perfect, MD of a Thurrock-based haulier, did not mince
his words: "Due to the ineptness of Felixstowe, shippers are
using lines that run into Southampton and Gateway, which are now
absorbing the extra work, which is causing delays in terminals.
"We have completely avoided Felixstowe during the day and
now only move out of there during the night," he added.
Last week, port users and freight trade associations warned that
Felixstowe was "grinding to a virtual standstill at peak
ti-mes". The Felixstowe Port Users' Association (FPUA) claimed
VBS slots were running at only 180 per hour, compared with 240 10
years ago, and that container moves per crane hour had fallen to
just 16, compared with around 30 at rival UK ports.
"The port of Felixstowe is at a virtual standstill and the
issue is being blamed on a shortage of labour," the FPUA told
The Fi-nancial Times, and estimated that the two terminals at
Trinity and Landguard were operating at just 70-80% of capacity.
The Hutchison Ports facility, advised by the former transport
secretary Chris Grayling, refuted the crane movement numbers,
describing them as "inaccurate", but declined to give
actual data to theUK newspaper, saying "comparisons were hard
Meanwhile, another haulier source at Felixstowe told The
Load-star today he believed all UK ports were struggling with
capaci-ty, due to the abnormal volumes, but "only Felixstowe is
He added: "This shambles will not change until volumes drop
in Q1 21, as the port cannot find a solution."
A spokesman for DP World told The Loadstar: "The UK is
cur-rently experiencing increased levels of inbound traffic into its
port network. London Gateway and Southampton have evolved to support
our customers' needs during this period and are opera-ting
effectively, despite unprecedented inbound traffic. We con-tinue to
work with all our partners to maintain high levels of service."
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