An AFP story out of Bangladesh reported a development that deserves a second look .. and maybe even a third one. “Forewarned is forearmed”, we thought, but no doubt the prevailing attitude on this side of the pond will more than likely be “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it”.

Here’s the story Nurum Alam submitted to AFP on September 2nd.

“Bangladesh’s trade shipments have ground to a halt as shipping companies refused to use the nation’s main port in a protest over container fees.

“‘Most private shipping companies have today suspended transporting cargoes to and from Chittagong port,’ Chittagong Port Authority chairman Shahadat Hossain said Saturday …

“The companies said the surcharge levied on local exporters and importers was needed to recover delay costs caused by ‘huge’ port congestion …” [Sound familiar?]

“‘An impasse has been created and if it persists it will be a disaster for Bangladesh because the suspension will affect more than 75 percent of our export and import trade,’ Hossain said …

“Officials said growth in the country’s export trade had caused congestion as authorities lacked infrastructure facilities to clear containers swiftly from port yards …” [Hmm-mm.]

Could something like this happen here, we wonder? Fran Inman, vice chair of the Transportation and Goods movement Committee of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, alerted us to that likelihood back in June of 2005.

A number of bills were being proposed by Southern California legislators intended to address the traffic congestion, port security, rail infrastructure and environmental mitigation. They were being referred to as “box fees”, as opposed to the creeping “user fees” imposed by the PierPass initiative. We remarked that these frivolous costs inevitably trickle down to the end-user/consumer/taxpayer – those without a say in the matter – and cautioned that there will be a day of reckoning.

Ms. Inman, however, was one of the few in authority who foresaw the consequences of this fiscal and legislative irresponsibility. With respect to the proliferation of fees, fees and more fees – and mindful of the straw that broke the camel’s back – Ms. Inman asked, “Where is the tipping point?”
As an indication that the day of reckoning is drawing closer, we need only recall that a “work stoppage” took place in LA just a few days ago. It was one of those “sympathy-type” occasions, where one group of laborers supported an unrelated group of laborers because there was a grievance that required the attention of inattentive authorities. That temporary stoppage was small potatoes, however, compared to the “tipping point” Ms. Inman foresees. And there’s not a darn thing being done to avert what could become the greatest economic disaster ever to befall this nation.