The ‘Ukraine Effect’ Has Resulted In New Barge Tariffs


  • It said the charge would apply until further notice and be levied in addition to existing bunker and diesel surcharges.
  • The source added that the port of Antwerp’s decision to expand its left bank to accommodate an extra 4m teu would only add to congestion along North Europe’s inland waterways.
  • But the source added: “And again, nobody cares.”

Contargo, a barge operator, has imposed a €25 ($27.4) “emergency premium” for each cargo, blaming the rising cost of gasoline connected to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as reported by The Loadstar.

Inland services 

Its latest figures put wait times for inland services into Rotterdam at more than three days, while shippers in Antwerp are waiting some 40 hours to receive shipments.

Contargo said: “The substantial increases in the price of gasoline, diesel and electricity present our hinterland network and service providers with great financial challenges.”

“To be able to maintain our accustomed service, we will introduce an emergency surcharge that will apply for all combinations of the barge, rail and truck, as well as truck delivery without a Contargo main run, of €25 per full or empty container.”

It said the charge would apply until further notice and be levied in addition to existing bunker and diesel surcharges.

Furthermore, the operator said, full containers handled at its terminals without barge, rail or truck transport provided by Contargo would be subject to a “special surcharge” of €3 ($3.29) per box, adding: “If further major changes take place in the next few days, we will re-assess the situation.”

Standard practice

One industry insider told The Loadstar that the combination of increased fees and deteriorating services has become standard practice in recent years.

The decision by Antwerp’s port to expand its left bank to accommodate an additional 4 million teu will only contribute to congestion along North Europe’s inland waterways, according to the source.

“Unless terminals start allocating dedicated berthing slots, cranes, and labour to handle inland navigation, inland waterway operations will continue to face increased congestion. The ‘first clear, then enter’ rule still applies at terminals, which means that barge cargoes are denied unless the shipping operator first clears comparable teu from storage.”

Price increase

“And again, nobody cares,” the insider added. “The terminals bill for longer storage, the container carriers bill for cargo demurrage, and the cargo owner invoices the end-user.”

“Politicians and barge and terminal operators found Ukraine helpful cover” to avoid facing the reality that business and governance failures are leading to price increases, according to the source, who added: “Inflation in Belgium is going up to 8%, and it will climb to 10% in the Netherlands, but when consumers comment on this, politicians and businesses conveniently position Ukraine as the reason.”

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Source: The Loadstar



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