Port of Felixstowe continues to feel the pain

Within the world of shipping, transport and logistics there is a lot going on right now.  What UK importers, Shipping lines and freight forwarders do not need is ports adding to their woe.  In the UK though it appears that the port of Felixstowe is continuing to suffer although the message coming from the port doesn’t seem to mirror the message coming from freight forwarders and importers.

New terminal operating system

It is easy to continue to blame the terminal system for the well documented problems that the port of Felixstowe has experienced and when the system first went live it was certainly the case that it was over-whelmed and could not cope with what it was being asked to do.

The port though maintain that good progress has been made on a number of key issues including load cycles and movement across the quay.  The port of Felixstowe have continually advised how they see the improving capabilities of the operating system.  The focus has now switched to driver shortages and problems with container collections.

Driver and haulier shortage

Certainly it is no secret that freight forwarders up and down the UK are exasperated at the issues surrounding haulage in and around the Southern ports.  Shipping lines continue to miss delivery slots set up on behalf of importers.  Lengthy periods between vessel arrival into port and cargo arriving at the door is being managed by UK Freight companies.

The UK’s busiest port, Felixstowe is at the centre of this with backlogs of cargo from the failed implementation of the operating system and the infrastructure unable to cope to get back to normal levels.  This has had a knock on effect at other ports where shipping lines have switched at short notice.

Diversion of ships to other ports

Although shipping lines over the last five months have diverted cargo to other ports, notably Southampton the move to bring ships into Northern UK ports has had a much slower take-up.  With an estimated 60% of containers entering UK ports are destined for warehouses north of the West Midlands there is certainly an argument to be had by Northern ports for a bigger share of the cargo.  Liverpool has accepted a few diversions with temporary moves by Maersk and MSC on two Transatlantic services but it wasn’t enough to help Felixstowe recover

Peel Ports and Liverpool

container ship at Liverpool Dock
container ship at Liverpool dock

Peel ports has ramped up their call for vessels to be diverted.  Asking why importers are not demanding that freight companies find alternatives to Felixstowe.  “Businesses going bust, job losses and rocketing Christmas prices for consumers, is that really what importers are willing to accept.

Playing Russian Roulette with their cargo transit times and costs in order to try and keep upfront costs quoted at their lowest whilst in reality accepting costs for Quay-Rent and Demurrage and trying to persuade their freight company they should pay it as they chose the routing.

CEO of Peel Ports, Chief Executive Mark Whitworth said: “When will retailers and importers tell freight forwarders and shipping lines ‘enough is enough’ and demand they bring their goods into the UK via northern ports which have the capacity to process shipments within days rather than weeks?

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