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Congestion at European and North American ports increased, with dock and yard operations peaking

As societies in Europe and North America unshackled and activity increased, ports in these regions faced increasing traffic congestion.

According to the Latest COVID-19 Port Barometer released by the International Association of Ports and Harbours, major container Ports in Europe and North America are having to deal with more containers than ever before due to the impact of closures.

 

Although shipping companies have cancelled a large number of voyages in the past few months, the pick-up in demand has meant a higher utilization rate of ships sailing, causing a sudden spike in activity at ports.

"Major container ports in Europe and North America have reported significant increases in average cargo volumes per attached ULCS, with some hubs handling up to 10,000 TEU," the report said.

"This has led to a spike in dock and yard activity and is beginning to affect overland operations, particularly trucks coming and going.Some ports are reporting that it will take days for the docks and port gates to return to normal, and the number of lost cargo is rising."

"Some port workers are under increasing pressure as these peaks sometimes affect resource allocation," the report added.

The report also notes that congestion on access roads to and from ports further exacerbates these problems.

 

The need to test truck drivers for symptoms of COVID-19 and what to do if they test positive, as well as the increasing flow of passengers returning to the road, have meant that trucks have faced longer queues at ports and wharf gates over the past five weeks.

"The delay is v-shaped, from a low of 8.4 per cent in week 23 to 14.6 per cent this week, almost back to the level of week 20."

The problems reportedly also include the need to isolate the growing number of truck drivers who test positive and congestion caused by necessary road maintenance.

"Road congestion is increasing at or near major cities' ports, with regular traffic increasing as a result of the relaxation of lockdowns or the start of high tourist season in the northern Hemisphere and discourages the use of public transport," the report said.