Monday, 15 October 2018

UK box port congestion could worsen during Q4 peak

Pic credit Robin Pridmore

Stuart Todd | Monday, 15 October 2018
Two-week delays already apparent ahead of the pre-Christmas peak import season as Southampton and Felixstowe struggle to clear backlogs

UK shippers and forwarders face a difficult fourth quarter if congestion at Felixstowe and Southampton container terminals continues, according to one leading forwarder.
Although Southampton reported that congestion was easing last week, Ryan Clark, co-owner and director of Westbound Logistics, told Lloyd's Loading List that backlogs were still significant at both ports and volumes would soon spike.
"Whilst we aren’t suffering the worst waiting times, we still are feeling the consequences and are needing to adjust our processes carefully,” he said.
“It’s very testing. We are already up to a two-week delay on bookings. We are likely to see an increase in container arrivals come the end of October through to mid-December for the pre-Christmas peak.
"Perhaps a slow period between Christmas and early January may be the answer to balancing demand again before Chinese New Year. But, if not, then I guess this could be a long road until the CNY closedown."
Clark said the congestion stemmed from IT failure at Felixstowe earlier this year. This resulted in containers arriving at terminals in surges, or being diverted to alternative ports.
As volumes were switched to Southampton, congestion there also began to build.

“The IT problem affected hauliers getting in to port,” he said. “After what was thought to be a small blip, it continued for weeks and various importers made a drastic decision to switch the port of entry to Southampton.
“Imagine even a 10% increase overnight and the strain on trucking that would be caused. The influx of extra containers has simply put booking times back to around 14 days."
Asked why more boxes were not being diverted to London Gateway, he said its liner service roster was different to those of Felixstowe and Southampton. “Why would anyone opt for a slower service? Time is money,” he added.


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