Container vessel operators are preparing to divert refrigerated containers destined for Shanghai to other ports because the area to plug into electric power is full of cargo that trucks can’t retrieve in the face of a citywide COVID lockdown.
The notices to customers are the latest manifestation of how the strict restrictions on movement within the city are impacting imports and exports through the world’s largest container port and Pudong International Airport.
Authorities in Shanghai have sealed off the entire city for nearly two weeks. Over the weekend a record 23,000 COVID cases per day were counted. More than 90% of trucks supporting import and export deliveries are out of action because of the restrictions. The slow pickup of cargo has resulted in long container dwell times, leaving less room to place arriving import boxes. Decreased terminal efficiency is forcing dozens of container vessels to wait at anchor for berth space, while others skip the port altogether.
Import dwell times for containers at Shanghai marine terminals has increased nearly 75%, to eight days, since the lockdowns began, according to supply chain visibility platform project44. Export storage time has fallen, possibly because there are few new containers being delivered from warehouses.
CMA CGM on Friday urged cargo owners to identify alternative ports for delivering refrigerated containers in case port operators deny discharge due to the limited availability of electric plug-ins.
The ocean carrier said it will waive the administrative fee for customers that pay cash on delivery for reefers dropped in other ports. But shippers could be responsible for other charges, including storage and plug-in at the new port.
“As we try our best to safeguard your cargo, please note that in the event your reefer import shipment fails to discharge upon its arrival in Shanghai, we may divert the cargo to alternative transshipment port(s) for interim storage before shipping back to Shanghai when the situation allows,” the notice said.
China is a major importer of fresh and frozen pork, chicken, seafood and other perishable products.
Mediterranean Shipping Co., the world’s largest container vessel operator, also said it will begin offloading refrigerated containers at other ports because there are no available power plugs to connect to in Shanghai. Unless customers request a specific change in destination within seven days, reefers will be discharged at intermediate or alternate ports of the carrier’s choosing. Additional freight charges for transshipment, storage, equipment rental and electrical connection may apply.
Restricted truck access is slowing container turnover in Shanghai port
And Ocean Network Express said overcrowding at two Shanghai container terminals might prevent its vessels from discharging reefer boxes.
Shanghai residents are demonstrating increased signs of frustration with the mass isolation, with people having to stay in their homes and depend on the government to bring food supplies.
“There is no purpose for Shanghai if we are locked down forever. … Managing omicron is not about controlling the virus. Control and contain measures slow the transmission, but now is the time to bolster individual and population defenses with more vaccinations, expanded health care support facilities, use home recovery and care for the vaccinated and lower-risk citizens,” wrote Alexander Glos, CEO of China i2i Group, in his China Intelligence Report newsletter.
“We must make full use of all of the tools available and tackle the problem at its core. There are many active viral infectious diseases in our world. We attack them, we manage them, and we continue to live. This is what we must do here today!” he said.
Many cargo owners are sending shipments to the Port of Ningbo and other airports outside Shanghai, but they too are experiencing congestion. Factories and warehouses in the Greater Shanghai metro area, a major center for electronics and automotive supplies, are also closed or operating at reduced capacity with workers living on site.
Alibaba helps with food delivery
Meanwhile, e-commerce giant Alibaba Group on Friday said it would direct 3,000 workers to help distribute goods to locked-down residents in Shanghai.
The group’s food delivery platform Ele.me will dispatch 600 couriers from other cities to Shanghai and Alibaba’s logistics arm, Cainiao, will bring in another 500 delivery personnel.