Operations at the Port of Algeciras collapsed on December 22, at the height of Christmas freight traffic. Since then, there's been a huge bottleneck of trucks and containers stuck at the port. The collapse is in part due to the increase in activity on these dates, the lack of personnel at the Border Inspection Post (BIP), especially in the External Health Agency, and a change in the health inspection protocols.
“There's a tremendous chaos,” stated Manuel Cozar, president of the Association of Freight Forwarders of the Bay of Algeciras. "The collective's degree of despair is enormous, not only of the freight forwarders but of all those who are related to the maritime-port logistics. There are trucks and containers pending sanitary inspections since December 22. We are at the height of Christmas traffic, so everything that is arriving each day is jammed and we don't know when this situation will end,” he said.
“There's a lot of perishable merchandise deteriorating, with the economic losses that this entails to the operators, who can do nothing, carriers, who are stuck, and importers, who directly lose their merchandise,” stated Alvaro Partida of the Partida Logistics customs agency and logistics operator. “No one knows when all the trucks, which are causing kilometer-long queues in the port, will be dispatched.”
“Different BIP agencies have had a lack of personnel for years. Every year, on holidays like these, many workers take days off, so there is less staff in a period with such a high export activity. Normally, we receive the most trucks and containers on weekends, especially from Morocco, which is increasing its exports to Europe. To make matters worse, this year, both Christmas and New Year took place on the weekend and this weekend Spain will celebrate the Day of the Three Wise Men. This has caused an outrageous bottleneck,” stated Alvaro Partida. “This kind of thing happens every year negatively affecting the image of the Port of Algeciras.”
Large quantities of fruits and vegetables from Latin America and Morocco are stuck in the port, and some merchandise is already being diverted to other countries such as France, Portugal, and Germany. “We have the capacity to divert goods to other ports in Spain, but that's not enough to solve this issue and we can't collapse other border inspection posts.”
Some operators in the European markets have stated that there is already a noticeable lack of Moroccan tomatoes, which temporarily favors Spanish exporters but can also cause an oversupply in the coming weeks.
"Health protocols have increased fivefold on very complicated dates. For three weeks now, inspectors have been forced to stand on the dock for the duration of the inspection, which is preventing them from taking out what only needs documentary inspection. The Health authorities have decided that it's no longer enough to have an official auxiliary present at the sampling and inspections, now the veterinarian has to be present; which means he can no longer be at his work table taking out files," Manuel Cozar stated.
“Staffing has been lacking for many years but chaos has never reached this extreme. Hiring more staff is essential. There has been a total lack of planning to meet the needs of this era,” Alvaro Partida stated.
For more information: