Global Port Congestion Forces Shipping Lines to Halt Cargo Bookings


Congestion at major transshipment ports worldwide and subsequent vessel delays have led Main Line Operators (MLOs) to stop accepting long transiting reefers and perishable cargoes, reports The Hindu.


A communiqué from MSC Agency (India) Pvt Ltd announced a temporary halt on bookings for US ports due to congestion and vessel omission. Another major line has also decided to skip calls to Colombo Port to recover schedule delays.

Alex K. Ninan, vice president of the Seafood Exporters Association of India, highlighted the adverse impact on marine product exports to the US and the reviving Chinese markets, citing increased costs and delivery delays. The current situation could further increase freight charges, which have already risen by 50%.

The advisories are expected to extend transit times to over two months for US ports, giving an advantage to Ecuador, which can deliver in 10 days. Tea traders at Cochin auctions are also concerned about the congestion, predicting a slowdown in tea exports due to container shortages.

K.S. Binu, president of the Kerala Steamer Agents Association, noted that MLOs are hesitant to accept long transiting containers and perishable cargo due to uncertainty about connections to final destinations. This reluctance is causing supply chain disruptions globally, with space constraints particularly affecting US-destined cargo. European and Middle Eastern cargoes are similarly impacted, driving up freight rates.

Equipment imbalances, unit pile-ups at transshipment hubs, and vessel berthing delays are evident at major ports. Despite no current equipment shortage, Cochin is experiencing berthing delays due to the late arrival of vessels from other ports, causing vessels to miss their berthing windows and creating a cascading effect.

Colombo is facing monsoon-related operational slowdowns and berthing delays, leading to a significant backlog of transshipments and affecting inbound shipments to Indian ports. The situation is expected to worsen over the next 3-4 months.

Prakash Iyer, chairman of the Cochin Port Users Forum, stated that the entire shipping industry is suffering due to congestion, which increases the cost of Exim trade and results in lost contracts due to loading delays.

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Source: The Hindu