How to solve container congestion
Essential coverage from the Lloyd’s List news desk
Ideas to reduce congestion chaos, EU environment plan confirms shipping’s worst fears, and little for shipping to celebrate on Day of the Seafarer
INDUSTRY heads have weighed in on how to resolve the container capacity crunch.
The chaos at ports and dearth of empty boxes is here to stay for months to come. Record high freight rates and lack of carrier space are even driving shippers to send their cargoes on bulkers and ro-ro ships.
In the US, financial stimulus, the vaccine rollout and strong consumer demand have resulted in record throughput growth at ports.
MSC chief executive Søren Toft has called for more investment on shore, arguing ageing ports and infrastructure remain the weakest link. Port digitalisation and better information sharing would also help.
And the US Federal Maritime Commissioner, Carl Bentzel, has urged carriers to enter talks with port operators to ease the return of empty boxes.
But a swift response by carriers stopped the spread of congestion from China’s now-reopened Yantian Port, according to Sea-Intelligence.
On regulation, we have two must-read stories on the European Union’s impending interventions:
• Leaked EU plans have confirmed the industry’s worst fears: The plans would create a compliance minefield for operators, cost billions of euros, and lock in the use of fossil fuels by ships for decades;
• Shipping faces full inclusion in the EU carbon market from 2026.
Sustainability editor Anastassios Adamopoulos warns the EU’s fragmented approach was not the result of sound decision-making, but of intra-EU departmental rivalries.
Meanwhile in crewing, the Day of the Seafarer passed with the usual calls for governments to make crew changes easier. But despite shipowners bending over backwards, the industry’s calls to governments have amounted to little.
Too many seafarers face abandonment, severe social isolation and unending fatigue. And the crewing crisis is also damaging seafarers’ home lives, a survey shows.
The Lloyd’s List View: Calls for a fairer future for seafarers mean little if no-one is listening. The industry has proven powerless to protect those who serve it.
Listen Out: IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim is on the podcast to discuss why the industry has struggled to resolve the crewing crisis, as well as abandonment, casualty investigations, and growing public criticism of shipping and its regulator.
Don’t miss: The Box Club is no more, in a sign of changing times for the shipping industry. The exclusive and secretive forum gave the world’s top liner executives a chance to discuss non-commercial matters, but also aroused suspicions of collusion.