Continued Delays at SSA Terminal, Oakland

I’ve been meaning to write about the SSA Terminal (Oakland) situation for a few months now. I apologize for not providing an update sooner. This is a long overdue posting.

I would like to say that the situation at SSA Terminal has improved since August. However the reality is that the situation is still dire. Conditions for truckers at SSA Terminal have not significantly improved. Truckers are advising us that they are taking four to sometimes even six hours to get a container out of SSA Terminal. In recent days, the terminal has been closing early in the afternoon (by 2-3pm) and preventing truckers from coming in to pick up container due to congestion. While we haven’t seen whole sections of SSA Terminal closed off for days on end as we did in July, the congestion above was enough to lead to two days of trucker’s protests on October 21 and October 22nd.

The reality is that unless conditions at SSA Terminal change drastically, we will continue to see labor disruption from frustrated truck drivers.

So what can members of the importing and exporting community do? What power do you have to effect change?

1.) Put pressure on steamship lines (carriers). They are SSA Terminal’s real paying customers. The trade community can put pressure on carriers in a number of ways. Besides voicing their displeasure with written and vocal complaints, the trade community can hit carriers where it counts. Stop booking containers with carriers if the intended vessel plans on calling SSA Terminal.

2.) Work with trucking companies and truck drivers to help compensate them for their time at SSA Terminal. I know of one trucking company that already has decided on charging a $150/container Congestion Surcharge for any container picked up at SSA Terminal. Be willing to listen to an negotiate with trucking companies if they do ask for an increase in delivery rates for containers at SSA Terminal.

In addition to being open to negotiating delivery rates, please be understanding when truck drivers are unable to return empty containers back to the terminal within the standard five day free detention time. We have already had a number of cases recently where truck drivers have had difficulty returning containers to the terminal within the standard five day detention time due to congestion at the terminals. In each of the cases, the trucking companies have asked us to help bear the cost of detention charge, and we have agreed. However this is a losing proposition both in the short and long term.

I am not confident that we will see a quick solution to the problem. I have heard nary a peep from the carriers who call on SSA Terminal. I know the new Executive Director of the Port of Oakland is working hard to find solutions. However considering the nature of the parties involved in this mess, I am not holding my breath.

-Jimmy Ting
Great World Customs Service
jimmyting@great-world.com

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