The port of Colombo is paralyzed by congestion
It is reported that the Port of Colombo has a backlog of 50,000 teu of cargo, causing South Asian transshipment cargo into chaos.
In the past few weeks, the Sri Lankan capital has been under lockdown due to the epidemic, and since the beginning of October, the city’s container terminal labor shortage has caused severe congestion.
Today, this dilemma is affecting the supply chains of neighboring India and Bangladesh.
According to Rohan Masakorala, CEO of Shippers’ Academy Colombo, the Port of Colombo’s workforce has been reduced by about 30%, which has dealt a major blow to the production efficiency of cranes and truck transportation between freight stations.
"The backlog of orders and goods is very large, and it may take six to eight weeks to clean up."
"Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT) mainly focuses on transshipment, while the other two terminals are responsible for feeder ships, so there is an urgent need for transshipment between terminals." He said.
"The lack of truck drivers means that containers are starting to accumulate in the storage area of the port. It also means that it affects feeder ships, sometimes waiting for more than a week, and then even the mainline ships have to be delayed by one to two days."
▲Colombo port congestion: a backlog of 50,000 TEUs caused delays and increased freight rates
Masakorala said that given that Colombo handles approximately 600,000 TEUs per month, regional feeders and connectivity are being severely damaged, and carriers are forced to ship containers to India, Singapore and Dubai.
He added: “Of course, Colombo is not the only port affected by the new crown epidemic, but as a transshipment hub, the impact is much greater and the entire region will be affected. Even now, there are still 23 ships waiting for berths. Usually the port receives 12-16 ships every day, so there are quite a lot of ships waiting at the window."
He explained that it is inevitable that Colombo’s freight has doubled, and shippers need to book eight weeks in advance to get a seat.
Masakorala said: “Some shippers have been waiting in Colombo for four weeks and two weeks in Singapore.” “Freight forwarders have been severely affected, so some urgent cargo must be transported by air or to a third port, which increases Cost and shipping time."
He added that, given that ports in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan are fully operational, there are now concerns that the port’s reputation may be damaged. Sri Lanka is ambitious and hopes to become a global shipping and logistics hub as famous as Dubai and Singapore. However, Mr. Masakorala said that the LCL loading and unloading and customs clearance and consolidation operations of FCL have been "seriously affected."
Recently, foreign trade forwarders who transshipped through this port have mainly paid attention to it, for fear of delays and additional costs.
Colombo handled 7.2 million TEUs in 2019, but Mr. Masakorala believes that the port’s throughput will drop by 10-20% this year.