Chronic Congestion

Here’s Wednesday’s (July 31st) Cargo Business News lead story:

“Hapag-Lloyd advises customers to avoid Port of N.Y.-N.J. due to delays”

“Hapag-Lloyd wrote a letter to its customers this week, advising them to reroute cargo shipments away from the Port of New York and New Jersey to avoid the chronic ‘severe congestion’ that has had trucks idling for hours in terminal queues.

“The letter enumerates the causes for the delays at the Port of New York and New Jersey, including marine terminal updates and rollouts, a shortage of trucking power because of new Hours of Service regulations implemented in July, a shortage of ILA labor due to summer vacations (affecting both terminal operations and terminal-to-rail truck transfers) and construction and vessel bunching at marine terminals.

“Both local and rail cargo are affected, the letter said. ‘In efforts to minimize commercial exposure to NY/NJ and restore our service to our customers,’ reads the July 26 letter, ‘we strongly suggest rerouting cargo whenever possible.’

“Hapag-Lloyd recommended that for cargo from or to the Europe/Mediterranean region, customers start using the alternative ports of Montreal, Halifax or Norfolk. For cargo from/to the Indian Sub-Continent/South East Asia, the shipping line recommended using the ports of Halifax or Norfolk, and for cargo from/to Latin America, they suggested the ports of Norfolk, Baltimore or Savannah.

“The company said they do not expect normal service to be restored at the East Coast port complex until mid-September of this year.” –

So there you have it. Too many eggs in one basket.

But isn’t this what former U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta was warning us about? Remember when he reminded us that of the 361 active U.S. ports, only 60 had container-handling capabilities, and only a half-dozen or so were referred to as “king ports” or “hub ports”?

He went on to advise anyone who would listen that the country needed to develop another 200 ports with container-handling capabilities if we were to avoid situations such as we’re seeing at NY/NJ. But bigger is better, according to those whose only interests were the corporate fanning of feathers and their ever-increasing salaries. Forget Mineta, they said.

We’ve written dozens of articles about this eventuality and how it would have been far more profitable for everyone along the supply chain if the Secretary’s advice had been heeded, and if our patented storage, retrieval and delivery systems had been utilized. Instead, arrogance and ignorance have prevailed and have exacerbated our “chronic”, seemingly unsolvable transportation problems.