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20pc import growth amid labour shortages and LA-LB congestion

A 20 per cent year-on-year growth in import volumes is taking up available terminal space in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, causing greater congestion, reports IHS Media

21 January 2021 - 19:00
A 20 per cent year-on-year growth in import volumes is taking up available terminal space in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, causing greater congestion, reports IHS Media.

Congestion has resulted in container dwell times, ships waiting at berth, worsening delays, and terminals putting in long draining hours.



Terminal operators declared six straight months of near-record cargo volumes had congested the entire Southern California supply chain beyond capacity.



'There is no room on the terminals,' said Long Beach Container Terminal (LBCT) president Anthony Otto.



Harbour Trucking Association CEO Weston LaBar said container terminals are buckling under container exchanges from mega ships that continue to discharge records imports.



'It's more volume than the terminals were designed to handle,' said Mr LaBar.



Historically, December turn-times are better than they were in the fall 2014 and winter 2015.



'This December there was no rest, no time to recharge our batteries because we were all so busy. I'm being told to expect volumes to remain this strong at least through July,' said Mr LaBar.



The terminals are all struggling, but for different reasons, with some noting labour shortages as a significant reason why they're backed up.



Terminal operators stated another element causing port congestion is a chassis shortage that has been ongoing since last summer. APM Terminals said Pier 400 in Los Angeles opened throughout December with zero chassis on some days.



'This results in truck drivers sitting idle inside the terminal waiting for the next chassis to become available,' said APM Terminals.


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