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Mexican officials: wait times at Otay Mesa Port of Entry up to five hours

Mexican officials are reporting long lines for commercial trucks at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry, between Tijuana and San Diego. Image: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Truck wait times on the Mexican side of the Otay Mesa port of entry have jumped as the inspection process lengthens, leaving trucks backed up for hours, said officials in Mexico.

“Both Mexican and American customs are spending more time reviewing the trucks – with wait times between four and four and one-half hours,” said Salvador Díaz González, president of the Tijuana-based Industrial Association of Otay Mesa (AIMO).

The long lines for the commercial crossing checkpoint in Otay affects not only the companies and transporters, but also the people who [travel] through the area, since the [trucks] massing invade the surrounding roads, Díaz said in an August 14 report in

Carrier wait times in the whole Otay Mesa/Tijuana/San Diego market have been trending up since June 1 – up 30 percent to 133 minutes average per load/unload event per month. 

Wait times at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry near San Diego have been trending upwards since June.

The average wait time for commercial trucks in the market is 126 mins over the last year. This information comes from the FreightWaves SONAR platform.

While traffic may be affected in Tijuana, wait times are not affecting the U.S. side of the border. Wait times are hovering around 40 minutes, as of noon August 14, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

With the FreightWaves SONAR Van Inbound Tender Rejection Index (VITRI.SAN) at 1.81 percent and dropping, carriers are still willing to accept loads into the Otay Mesa/San Diego market. SONAR’s Van Outbound Tender Rejection Rate (VOTRI.SAN) is also around 1.81 percent, meaning there are no capacity issues in the market.

Díaz said he understands why officials have been stricter with inspections, but the negative effects are causing lower carrier productivity, more air pollution in the Tijuana area and traffic jams that affect others who drive in the area.

Customs inspections on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border are causing delays, say Mexican officials. Image: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

“The carriers themselves report to us is that when they arrive at the [checkpoint] they are taking longer – the results are being seen in the industrial area of ​​Otay, where the lines are increasing, we are blocking roads and we are causing an inconvenience to the population,” Díaz said.

AIMO, along with other agencies, are seeking a meeting with customs authorities on both sides of the border to find ways to expedite crossings. 

“What we are looking for today is a meeting with them – the Mexican customs administrator and the U.S. counterpart, to see what is happening and see what we can do to help for transport and goods to flow more efficiently,” Díaz said. 

Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]