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China's port reefer logjam eases as Beijing loosens grip on truckers

SEVERE congestion at Chinese ports is easing, although reefer box congestion has disrupted fresh and frozen supplies, Reuters reports

17 March 2020 - 19:00

SEVERE congestion at Chinese ports is easing, although reefer box congestion has disrupted fresh and frozen supplies, Reuters reports.

Germany's Hapag-Lloyd told Reuters that port congestion in China has eased, berthing operations have improved and terminals have resumed normal working conditions. More plug-ins have become available and the company no longer diverts cargo on a large scale.



Beijing has allowed more travel and offered help to restart operations. Some ports chartered trains to bring truck drivers back to clear containers.



Reefers carrying meat, seafood and fruit from around the world to China have been stuck for weeks in China ports after Beijing extended the Chinese New Year holiday to curb the spread of coronavirus



That left few truck drivers to move reefer boxes, which were either stranded or redirected around Asia to find places where they could be plugged in to power to prevent spoilage.



'There were staff shortages everywhere, at berths, among inspectors, truck drivers and at downstream companies. But it's getting much better now, as people are coming back,' said Zhang Ruxing, secretary general of the container division at the China Ports & Harbours Association.



Germany's Hapag-Lloyd told Reuters that port congestion in China has eased, berthing operations have improved and terminals have resumed normal working conditions. More plug-ins have become available and the company no longer diverts cargo on a large scale.



About 18,000 TEU reefers were still at Shanghai and Tianjin ports as of March 6, the port association said this week, down from 27,000 in mid-February.



Shanghai, the world's largest container port by volume, and Tianjin have added 7,000 new spots to plug in reefers, expanding storage capacity for chilled cargoes by 40 per cent, it said.


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