A Cure For Congestion

Recent interviews of port officials in LA/Long Beach reflect a lessening of concern with respect to the vessel backlog at those ports and tell of “rapid improvement” and “regaining control” of operations. They insist that the situation is improving and that congestion is gradually easing. The attendees at the Textile and Apparel Trade and Transportation Conference held on Tuesday, the 16th of November, were nowhere near that optimistic, however. When polled, 74% of them considered the congestion at that complex to be the most important issue facing them. Which of these opposing views has more substance? Consider the following, then decide for yourself.

• Citing the adverse effects on business, Long Beach Mayor Beverly O’Neill and Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn convened a joint task force a few weeks ago in order to seek solutions to the problems of congestion and inaccessibility.

• Projects already under consideration include; around the clock gate operations, shuttle-train service to off-site distribution centers, added near-dock rail intermodal yards, filling in harbor waters, acquiring more land by eminent domain, demolishing and replacing bridges and highways, and, of course, dredging.

• Just yesterday, Lloyd’s Register reported that delays at LA/Long Beach have caused major toy distributors to cancel orders for this Christmas season and are seriously considering joining the other lines that have already diverted to other ports for next season.

• Hamburg Sud has announced an adjustment of vessel rotations at LA/Long Beach because of continuing congestion problems and delays at dockside vessel servicing.

• At Tuesday’s conference Ron Widdows, CEO of APL, chided port officials for failing to understand the adverse effects inadequate terminal capabilities are having upon carriers. He warned that port and rail congestion here and in foreign ports as well are threatening the growth of world trade.

• Mr. Widdows has spent much of his time addressing this country’s growing congestion problems and seeking support in his search for infrastructure solutions, but he took this opportunity to express his dismay over the labor/management relationship at LA/Long Beach and the consequent low rate of productivity. “It needs to change”, he said.

Mr. Widdows is giving every terminal operator and every port official fair warning, and forewarned is forearmed. He made a point of emphasizing the infrastructure crises in all the principal ports of the world and not just the U.S. ports, and this worldwide problem makes it obvious that no one knows of a solution and that the many costly attempts at buying time have proved to be futile. Our patented system solves space problems, labor problems, money problems, employment problems, distribution problems, delay problems, etc., etc. Or are we waiting for government intervention?