• DATVF.ATLPHL
    1.712
    -0.101
    -5.6%
  • DATVF.CHIATL
    2.073
    0.027
    1.3%
  • DATVF.DALLAX
    0.990
    0.045
    4.8%
  • DATVF.LAXDAL
    1.500
    0.084
    5.9%
  • DATVF.SEALAX
    0.982
    -0.030
    -3%
  • DATVF.PHLCHI
    1.154
    0.085
    8%
  • DATVF.LAXSEA
    2.136
    0.044
    2.1%
  • DATVF.VEU
    1.646
    0.003
    0.2%
  • DATVF.VNU
    1.483
    0.024
    1.6%
  • DATVF.VSU
    1.245
    0.064
    5.4%
  • DATVF.VWU
    1.559
    0.007
    0.5%
  • ITVI.USA
    9,370.690
    -10.770
    -0.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    7.400
    -0.170
    -2.2%
  • OTVI.USA
    9,360.730
    -4.720
    -0.1%
  • TLT.USA
    2.750
    -0.010
    -0.4%
  • WAIT.USA
    156.000
    -2.000
    -1.3%
  • DATVF.ATLPHL
    1.712
    -0.101
    -5.6%
  • DATVF.CHIATL
    2.073
    0.027
    1.3%
  • DATVF.DALLAX
    0.990
    0.045
    4.8%
  • DATVF.LAXDAL
    1.500
    0.084
    5.9%
  • DATVF.SEALAX
    0.982
    -0.030
    -3%
  • DATVF.PHLCHI
    1.154
    0.085
    8%
  • DATVF.LAXSEA
    2.136
    0.044
    2.1%
  • DATVF.VEU
    1.646
    0.003
    0.2%
  • DATVF.VNU
    1.483
    0.024
    1.6%
  • DATVF.VSU
    1.245
    0.064
    5.4%
  • DATVF.VWU
    1.559
    0.007
    0.5%
  • ITVI.USA
    9,370.690
    -10.770
    -0.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    7.400
    -0.170
    -2.2%
  • OTVI.USA
    9,360.730
    -4.720
    -0.1%
  • TLT.USA
    2.750
    -0.010
    -0.4%
  • WAIT.USA
    156.000
    -2.000
    -1.3%
American ShipperShippingWarehouse

OHT closure causes congestion to grow in Oakland

One shipper described the long truck lines at the Port of Oakland as a “debacle” as cargo volumes at the SSA terminal have climbed suddenly due to the rapid exit of Outer Harbor Terminal LLC, a joint venture of Ports America and TIL Group.

   Congestion has worsened at the Port of Oakland as a result of the decision by Ports America and Terminal Investment Ltd. to end operations at the Outer Harbor Terminal.
   Don Pisano, the president of American Coffee Corp. and head of the National Industrial Transportation League’s ocean transportation committee, last Thursday described the situation as a “debacle,” saying he had been unable to pick up a container since Feb. 22.
   Edward DeNike, the president of SSA Containers, which operates the Oakland International Container Terminal, says that facility has seen a surge of cargo volumes as shipments that formerly flowed through the Outer Harbor Terminal have relocated.
   “All that business came over to us. If we didn’t take it, it would have to bypass the Port of Oakland,” he said.
   SSA is now handling 25 to 27 ships a week, up from 14 to 15 per week before the Outer Harbor Terminal closed. SSA is also handling 5,000 to 6,000 trucks a day through its terminal gates where previously it was handling 3,000 to 4,000 trucks per day.
   DeNike said the company has added night and weekend hours and is leasing additional land for use as an empty container yard, but that the port had to give the existing tenants 30 days notice. He said SSA has also purchased some additional cargo handling equipment that will take 60 to 90 days to arrive.
   In a statement, the Port of Oakland noted the Oakland International Container Terminal has been operating on Saturdays for a month, and that before the end of this month SSA will open a 32-acre container yard for rapid pick-up and drop-off of empty containers. It also said some of the additional equipment began arriving last week.
   DeNike said the longest lines develop before the OICT terminal opens each day. Trucks arrive overnight, and he says by 7 a.m. there are hundreds of trucks waiting to get into the facility. Once the facility opens, it is processing 600 trucks per hour, and by the afternoon, the lines have disappeared, according to DeNike.
   During the night gate hours, he said the terminal does not have a full gate, but handles about 500-600 trucks per night. OICT uses night shifts to receive and deliver refrigerated containers and conduct “peel off” operations.
   “I don’t know what else we can do,” he said.
    Pisano said carriers are extending free time for shippers on a daily basis so that cargo owners do not incur demurrage charges for containers that they are unable to recover from terminals.
   “It’s a daily thing, they keep extending and extending, but we want access to the cargo. I think most importers are interested in getting the cargo off the terminal as quickly as possible,” he said. “The longer we are denied the product, the longer the carriers are denied their empty boxes back.” 
   David Weber, a senior vice president at The Annex, a coffee and tea warehouse in San Leandro, said one of the truckers that brings containers to his facility was finally able to pick-up one of Pisano’s boxes of coffee on Thursday but was still trying to recover the other on Friday.
   He explained that trucks coming to pick up containers at the terminal may spend hours on line waiting to get to the in gate at the SSA terminal only to be told that the section of the terminal where their container is located is closed because it has become so crowded it is unsafe to allow additional trucks into the area.
   Some truckers are even spending the night outside the terminal so that they will be first on line when it opens up.
   Weber said the peel-off program, where the terminal builds a pile of containers that will all be picked up by the same group of truckers should help importers.
   In order to take advantage of the program, importers have to notify the terminals 72 hours before a ship arrives which containers they want to be put into a segregated stack so that truckers can come in and pick up any of the containers in the pile in rapid succession, rather than having the terminal hunt through stacks of containers to search of a particular box.
   The program requires truckers to have at least 20 containers to pick up, and Weber said his company is “building out spread sheets for every vessel and as soon as we hit 20, we know we are going to be able to pile those containers.”
   Weber says that both he and the truckers who pick up containers at the terminal are frustrated with the situation.
   “I tell them to keep their composure,” he said. 
   He said the port and SSA are making changes, but cautioned that it may not “be as fast as we’d all like it to be.”
   DeNike said SSA would not consider taking over the Outer Harbor Terminal because cranes at the terminal are too small, there is a need for repaving, and there is a potential union lawsuit over whether the International Longshore and Warehouse Union or International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers has jurisdiction over maintenance work.

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Chris Dupin

Chris Dupin has written about trade and transportation and other business subjects for a variety of publications before joining American Shipper and Freightwaves.
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