For a month now, the port of Felixstowe has been suffering from serious traffic congestion problems due to a surge in imports container volumes and increased landside demand. Late vessel arrivals, particularly over the last few weeks, have done the rest.
According to the British International Freight Association the situation is becoming unacceptable: Director-General of the Association, Robert Keen, said that the top British port had been experiencing congestion problems since 2018 due to a new port vehicle booking system, which has led to low productivity on the quayside and staffing shortages. Mr. Keen also criticized the local Port Authority for failing to take action and called for urgent government intervention.
The port, owned by Hutchison, is currently unable to process empty containers. This problem is forcing many shippers to store unshipped boxes outside the port area.
Shipowners have taken immediate action: CMA CGM, for example, has introduced port congestion surcharges to cope with rising operating costs in the port and freight forwarders believe that other shipowners will sooner or later follow the example of the French carrier.
Congestion in port yards has reached critical levels and companies have in many cases been forced to divert goods to other ports, such as London Gateway or Southampton.
As a consequence, Hutchison has tried to find an alternative solution by increasing the number of vehicle booking slots available, in the hope of relieving congestion problems.
Translation by Giles Foster