BRi USA NEWS - Carriers Warn of Widespread Disruption from Indian Port Congestion


Dear all Valued Customers


With import cargo offtake seeing no traction amid the extended COVID-19 lockdown in India and port-side container freight stations (CFSs) reaching capacity thresholds, container lines are becoming increasingly concerned about potential disruption to their vessel operations.


In a letter to the Ministry of Shipping and port-terminal stakeholders, the Container Shipping Lines Association (CSLA), which represents foreign carriers in India, said the latest inventory numbers at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) suggest a supply chain bottleneck of alarming proportions is beginning to take shape even as carriers took a raft of proactive measures to induce cargo clearance.


The CSLA noted recent port actions to shift containers inland en masse have not yielded much success because of logistics and customs-related procedural barriers. The association also said exporters are facing difficulty picking up empty boxes from clogged depots, thereby causing an adverse impact on the overall shipping activity. To lessen the effects of cargo build-ups, the CSLA has sought immediate government intervention to allocate a temporary site inside the port to hold undelivered imports as efforts to push deliveries gain ground.


Maersk, in a statement to, said it is working around a three-pronged strategy to meet the current challenges: moving cargo by rail wherever trucking is difficult, using digital solutions to circumvent the typical need for customs brokerage services, and finding additional storage space.


Countering industry assertions targeted in large part at customs house agents for shippers’ failure to clear cargo, the Brihanmumbai Customs Brokers Association (BCBA) has urged carriers to use standardized, digital documentation instead of more physically demanding and tedious manual processes in a crisis environment.


As the scarcity of space across ports reaches a boiling point that could see vessels discharge cargo bound for a congested port elsewhere in the region, Indian Customs has extended a previously implemented waiver for penalties usually levied toward late filing of the import shipment data until May 6. India’s pandemic-related lockdown, for now, runs to May 3.


Essential cargo moving despite import jam India's airports, other cargo in backlog


India’s air cargo congestion is easing, with medical and pharmaceutical shipments moving freely despite the lockdown being extended to May 3. Hastily organized social distancing measures came into effect in March, grounding passenger fleets and removing huge amounts of belly hold capacity.


Mumbai International Airport Ltd has continued its cargo handling activities, catering for increased domestic and international demand for essential commodities. The airport is operating a “skeleton staff” daily to process cargo. On average, the airport is handling eight to nine cargo flights a day, mostly carrying essential medical shipments to the US, Germany, South Africa, France and the UK.


However, some airlines could only continue operating freighters for a few days into the lockdown. “After that, we needed to cease, as warehouses were overrun with cargo,” one airline stated. “This was especially evident in the main cargo hubs of Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai.”


There’s little outbound congestion at major airports, according to a source, as only essential cargo is moving, but limited airline capacity means import congestion remains, due to the arrival of cargo prior to the lockdown.


India Freight Update


BRi USA has received the following update from BRi India on the logistics conditions in India:


  • Carriers continue to announce blank sailings and vessel delays. Port operations continue to be delayed due to berthing delays.
  • Few freighters are operating. Some airlines have announced ad hoc freighter shipments to offer more capacity.
  • Container freight stations continue to be congested due to importers not taking deliveries of discharged containers.
  • Most truckers are unable to accept orders due to the lack of availability of drivers. Those that are working are only picking up essential commodities at this time.
  • General storage warehouses are also congested due to lack of availability of forklift drivers, crane operators, etc.


U.S. Ports Status Update


Below is a general overview of the operations BRi USA has been able to gather for most major U.S. ports. This list will be updated as information is made available.


Port of Seattle and Tacoma - The Port of Seattle has implemented daily enhanced cleaning protocols to prevent the spread of coronavirus at Port maritime and marine maintenance facilities. Several terminals are closing Thursday-Saturday this week and next, while others are opening on Saturday to handle any incoming ships. The port is expecting 14 blanked sailings through June and terminals will continue to fluctuate schedules to accommodate cargo flow


Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach – Several terminals at the Port of Los Angeles has identified acreage available for the storage of empties for carriers. The port is open for normal operations at this time.


Port of Oakland – The Port of Oakland is planning for a 10% reduction in inbound volume due to blanked sailings May – June. They have implemented a one-hour delay between shifts to allow for additional sanitation to occur. The port has also identified adjacent facilities to the port that may be used for storage should a surge of imports occur. The port is open for normal operations at this time.


Port of Houston - Last week Port Houston rolled out the non-contact temperature screenings of employees and workers entering Turning Basin Terminals and Bayport and Barbours Cut terminal locations. Port Houston continues to work normal business hours, 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Monday – Friday.


Port of New York/New Jersey - Several terminals at the Port of NY/NJ are storing donated produce for local food banks servicing those in need in the NY/NJ area effected by COVID-19. All terminals are operating under normal schedules at this time.


Port of Boston – Conley Terminal is open and operational. All facilities are using EPA/CDC approved disinfectant products to aid in appropriate combinations of engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent worker exposures.


Port of Virginia - Due to a downturn in volume, the port has announced that effective May 4, 2020, the Portsmouth Marine Terminal (PMT) will be closed. Truck gate openings at Norfolk International Terminals and Virginia International Gateway will also be shortened one hour to open at 0700 hours, Monday – Friday.


North Carolina Ports – Through an expansion project, the port now has expanded to 775 reefer plugs that are positioned near its refrigerated warehouse facility, which has more than 3 million cubic square feet of storage. The port plans to also expand its total reefer yard capacity to be able to handle more than 1,000 containers. The port is open for normal operations at this time.


South Carolina Ports – The South Carolina Ports Authority is offering longer-term storage space at its North Charleston terminal. The port said there is “significant space” available at the North Charleston terminal, and also at the authority’s inland port in Dillon, South Carolina. The port is open for normal operations at this time.


Port of Georgia - The Georgia Port Authority (GPA) has already begun taking temperatures of many of our own employees. In an effort to continue to ensure the safest possible working environment during normal operations, they will begin taking temperatures at all access control points for non-containerized traffic. The port is open for normal operations at this time.


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As a valued customer, we hope that you will continue to trust us to source the best options for your supply chain needs now and into the future. Feel free to contact your assigned Customer Solution Representative, should you have any queries or concerns regarding the above.

Keeping you updated,

BRi Customer Solutions Team

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