All over the world, ports have taken center stage during the pandemic. While many airports, roads, and trains ground to a halt during the peak of the pandemic last year, authorities continued to wave ships into ports. Although this emphasizes the importance of shipping, the same goes for the danger of port disruptions in the future and we are now witnessing the biggest disruption to ports since the start of container shipping 65 years ago.
According to Kuehne+Nagel, 353 container ships are currently anchored outside ports around the world, more than doubling the number from earlier this year. The busiest ports, such as Los Angeles / Long Beach, are experiencing delays of 12 days or more. The logjam has caused shortages of stock and delayed deliveries, raising prices, frustrating consumers, and alarming regulators.
Adding to the problem is an aging and overburdened port system. “There were problems before the rush of cargo,” Soren Toft, chief executive of the world’s second-largest container shipping group MSC told gcaptain.com. “Port complexes were becoming old, there were capacity restrictions and restrictions on the ability to serve the ever-growing size of ships.”
The most obvious solution to the problem is investing in port infrastructure, short sea shipping, and short sea distribution.