China truck protest may steer shippers to barge
A protest by container truck drivers in Southern China last week over better pay has many shippers and their logistics providers taking a closer look at inland transport options.
The truck drivers, who clashed with police on June 2, attempted to block the main road leading to the western ports in Shenzhen, which includes Chiwan, Shekou and Mawan. Although short lived, the truckers have now threatened to block other ports at Yantian and Da Chan Bay.
Some logistics providers in China want shippers to be more aware of all their inland transport alternatives in the Pearl River Delta. Barge transport, although slower than truck, is a viable option to move containers to the outbound ports. Thousands of barges operate on the river.
'We're making sure the manufacturers know all the capabilities, transits and costs,' said Patrick Ahern, vice president of international for National Retail Systems, which operates in China through a joint venture with Sinotrans. 'We've been fielding a lot of inquiries about barge transport.'
In China, many shippers are responsible for the transportation of containerized cargoes from the factories to the port docks, and there's a tendency for them to pick the cheapest truckers, Ahern said.
With vessel capacity constraints already at an all-time high in China's ports, any type of trucker protest, no matter how temporary, could cause many shippers to miss their booked sailings.
'We have a lot of problems in the ports right now. There are huge backlogs in Shanghai, for example, because of vessel capacity cuts,' Ahern said.