One forwarder told The Loadstar all UK ports had been affected by problems ranging from driver shortages and rail failures to issues arising from M&A activity.
Advance road bookings now require up to 10 days lead time.
“We are seeing failures on some 20% of the boxes we handle; that’s thousands of boxes, and from what we are hearing some of our competitors have it worse,” said the forwarder.
The port of Felixstowe has borne the brunt of the industry’s ire, thanks to the delays and congestion resulting from its efforts to integrate a new IT system. Last week, OOCL and CMA CGM announced they were withdrawing services and redirecting them to other UK gateways.
MSC has now announced it will divert its India/Pakistan-Europe IPAK service to London Gateway from next week.
“People are now actively avoiding Felixstowe, because of its IT issues, and redirecting services into regional ports,” the forwarder continued. “Liverpool generally does not experience any issues but even there we are seeing delays and backlogs.”
However, another forwarding source noted that while the port of Liverpool had experienced some issues, they had been relatively short-lived. He said “a few” larger ships had been diverted from southern ports into Liverpool, affecting operations for a “couple of days”.
He added: “Drivers were waiting up to eight hours to collect a container, but only in a certain area of the port – which did create some unrest.
“It didn’t take long to get back up to speed, with us collecting five to six containers per day, delivering to our warehouse, unloading and returning the empty with one driver.”
For the wider industry however, another forwarder told The Loadstar, the core issue was a lack of haulage – a view that appears to be supported by carriers demanding seven to 10 days advance booking. Those that fail to book this far in advance have been unable to get access to haulage space.
“If expectation for booking is 10 days, whereas previously the entire turnaround could be completed in three days, that tells you there isn’t the haulage capacity,” said the forwarder.
“This causes its own problems, with ‘pay and play’ taking effect and hauliers only working for the highest rates. Those unwilling to pay? Tough, the hauliers will find work elsewhere.”
Alongside the lack of available road haulage, the UK is also suffering from limited rail capacity, and with peak season approaching it is likely to get worse.
We request that you please contact us at your earliest convenience to secure your bookings.
The port of Southampton is at the moment experiencing delays which mean it can take 10-14 days to get an available space rather than the usual 2 or 3. Planning in advance is of upmost importance.
Haulage capacity seems to have dropped quite significantly and this needs to be taken into account when planning for the next few months.
Please contact us for further information or if you require any help or assistance. We will keep you updated of any developments.
Source: The Loadstar