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Halifax clears container pile-up from Covid and Montreal dock strike

CANADA's Port of Halifax has been working to clear a backlog of containers that have been accumulating at its terminals because of a rebound in traffic after Covid lockdowns and cargo diversions from a dock strike in Montreal, reports Fort Lauderdale's Maritime Executive

12 October 2020 - 19:00

CANADA's Port of Halifax has been working to clear a backlog of containers that have been accumulating at its terminals because of a rebound in traffic after Covid lockdowns and cargo diversions from a dock strike in Montreal, reports Fort Lauderdale's Maritime Executive.

Port authorities told the Canadian Broadcasting Company that it has been a logjam but they are hopeful that they will catch up clear it in the next week.



In late July, Montreal longshoremen staged a four-day walkout in Montreal, and then in August, the port was crippled by a two-week strike by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) against their employer the Maritime Employers Association (MEA) over a lack of a contract for the past 18-months.



Ocean carriers began diverting ships from Montreal to Halifax even before the strike began.



When work resumed at the terminals in Montreal during the third week of August, officials predicted it would take between two and four weeks to catch up. Six weeks later, dealing with the increased flow of containers experienced in recent weeks, the Port of Halifax is still working to clear the backlog.



Adding to the challenge has been the increased traffic into the Port of Halifax. For example, in September Halifax saw the first calls of two of the largest container ships to ever arrive in Canada. The CMA CGM Group's CMA CGM Brazil and CMA CGM Panama, each with a carrying capacity of 15,072 TEU, made calls in the port as part of their regular service to South Asia.



Halifax reports that vessels due from carriers MSC and Hapag-Lloyd will likely clear away most of the delayed containers and get it to their destinations. The 2,524-TEU MSC Weser called at Halifax on October 4 and was able to reduce the backlog significantly taking containers to Montreal.



The vessel will also carry containers to Quebec. Also, CN Rail has been working to assist in clearing the backlog increasing the numbers of containers moving by rail from the port.


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