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Cargo ships aren’t the only bottleneck — shipping containers sat on land longer than ever last month

"Terminals are not designed to be a long-term storage facility for cargo," said a Pacific Merchant Shipping Association manager. ...
Containers at the port of Los Angeles, California, US.
Containers at the port of Los Angeles, California, US.

  • The Southern California ports also face backlogs on land as containers wait to be picked up.
  • Dwell time for containers traveling by truck hit a new record in October.
  • Overloaded warehouses and shortages of workers and chassis have made it difficult to pick up cargo.

Backlogs on land at the nation's largest ports hit a new record in October.

While the ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach have continued to break records this year for the number of ships waiting to dock at the locations, unloaded shipping containers are also creating historic traffic jams. The amount of time the containers that are waiting to be picked up by trucks lingered in the port terminals climbed to an average of 7.64 days last month, according to data from the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association.

In September, the average amount of dwell time for unloaded containers at the ports was under six days. The PMSA said in its statement on Monday that over half of the containers at the ports waited in the terminals for over five days. 

Dwell time for containers traveling by railroad improved in October from an average of 5.5 days the previous month to 3.9 days. Earlier in the year, the glut of containers turned railroads into major chokepoints. However, since then, the movement of goods through rails has improved.

Meanwhile, overloaded warehouses and a shortage of workers and chassis have made it increasingly difficult for truckers to pick up goods from the ports. What's more, the backlogs on land create a ripple effect, making it even more difficult for the ports to unload incoming cargo ships because there is often no space to offload the goods.

"Terminals are not designed to be a long-term storage facility for cargo," the manager of government affairs at PMSA, Jessica Alvarenga, said.

The same month that dwell time for containers hit all-time highs, the ports announced plans to begin charging carriers $100 per day for each container that remained at the ports past six to 9 days. When the fines were initially announced, nearly 60,000 shipping containers had lingered at the ports for over 9 days.

On Monday, the ports postponed the new fines for the third time, saying the container congestion had cleared by nearly 30%.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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