drayage

Truck Protest at the Port of Oakland Today (Monday, December 8, 2014)

Conditions at the West Coast port terminals have seriously deteriorated in past weeks. I have been writing about how horrible conditions have become awful in the past month. Apparently, drivers at the port of Oakland have had enough. We received a message last Friday from one local trucking company that drivers at the Oakland port were intending to protest at the port terminals today, Monday, December 8th. We have confirmed this morning that many trucking companies are indeed facing a protest. Here is a message from one our local drayers:

Today , drivers have not shown up for work  in support of the truckers work stoppage  against the unreasonable delays at the terminals and to highlight their complaints against Union workers. We have learned that numerous drivers, including our own independent contractors, have agreed not to work , either to join their support to the protest, or out of fear for their safety.. Moreover, several transportation companies will not be sending their drivers to the terminals on the day of the protest.

This protest at the port of Oakland is unfortunate in timing, but should not come as a surprise. We have seen the West Coast terminal situation become absolutely unbearable as truckers are not able to consistently get into the terminals to pick up and return containers.

I would like to also share a snapshot of messages we have received this past week from what we consider to be some of our long standing most trusted trucking partners along the U.S. West Coast.

  • “There most likely will be demurrage charges for this container. We will only accept if you guys guarantee demurrage for however many days we need to pull container. Also, once your container becomes available, we won’t be able to schedule until the LFD. We have too many demurraged containers at the moment. Please confirm. Thanks”
  • ​”Well received and even we got the order days ahead before the arrival, there’s no sufficient time to pull out containers from terminals. Due to terminals congestion, we don’t guarantee pickup of containers on or before the LFD​​. Please provide allowance for additional chassis usage because we’re havi​​ng problems on the return too.  Thank you.”
  • “Notes:  Due to the current situation at Oakland Port, we will not be ​responsible for DEMURRAGE CHARGES if container​ ​is not p/u before the last free date​. In order to process the order and assured that we received the document we​ ​will acknowledge receipt of your order by providing a REFERENCE#. If we do​ ​not reply, please contact us immediately”​

The reality is that there is no guarantee these days that a driver going into a terminal will be able to get out of a terminal in any reliable time frame, if at all. In the past, trucking companies were able to schedule drivers to arrange pickups and deliveries ahead of time with a basic amount of certainty. However under current conditions, trucking companies are having to turn away pick up and delivery requests because they just cannot be sure their drivers will be available to successfully get into a terminal. If the trucker does accept the delivery order, they are requesting that we provide a flexible time frame for actually retrieving the container. This means that there WILL be a possibility that a container may not be picked up until AFTER the last free day. This means there may be BOTH demurrage charges to be paid to the terminal AND waiting time charges to be paid to the trucker. In the case of the port of Seattle and Tacoma, we ask that importers be aware that trucking companies are having extreme difficulty even returning empty containers. This can lead to storage and detention charges on empty containers.

Many of our long time trucking partners have turned away a large amount of business in recent months. This turning away of business has only accelerated in recent weeks with various truckers already stating they are booked through much of the month of December.

I have been pleading with our customers to be patient and flexible in this time. If we are assisting you with your trucking moves, this means that we ask that you be understanding if we indicate that we are looking for drivers that can assist with a delivery. You may find that we are using alternative trucking companies outside of normal ones you are used to working with. We ask that you be understanding if we indicate that there may be demurrage and/or special waiting time/congestion charges associated with a pickup.

Great World is first and foremost a service company that has the best interests of our customers at heart. We value our long term partnership with our customers and believe strongly in building mutually beneficial relationships. This is an extremely trying time. We ask that you work with us as well as the trucking community to get through it.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

-Jimmy Ting
Great World
t: 650-873-9050 x1019
jimmyting@gwlcorp.com

Advertisements

Port of Oakland Congestion Update – Truckers Beginning to Charge Waiting Time

We received a message today from one of our long time trucking partners that they will begin charging for waiting time at the terminals. They will provide two hours of free waiting time. However any additional time will be billed at $55 an hour. We have other truckers who have long since instituted a waiting time fee. We urge importers and exporters who rely on these truckers to please be patient and understanding. The truckers really are struggling to make a living as they continue having to waste more time at the terminals trying to get containers. We have been told that drivers have been experiencing wait times ranging from two to five hours.

Here’s our latest update of the four main terminals serving the port of Oakland.

1.) Ports America – This port seems to have taken over the number one ranking as the biggest offender from the standpoint of terminal congestion. Containers arriving at the port are taking more days than usual to become available for pick up. They are often times sitting in locations that truckers are not allowed to pick up at. We’ve seen containers remain unavailable for over one week (beyond the free time allowed by the terminal). Right now, Ports America is extending their free time in these situations. This has even affected containers that are subject to Customs examinations. However you do have to be careful which carrier you are using. Hapag Lloyd recently billed a customer for storage fees despite the fact that the container was not available for pick up. Also note that even once containers are available, the first available pick up appointment is usually a few days later.

I do believe some of the carriers using Ports America understands they have a major congestion issue. The past two weekends, they have had Saturday gates open to help relieve some of the congestion. They plan on opening a Monday gate on Presidents’ Day.

2.) SSA Terminal – SSA is still dealing with long wait times. Adding to the headache, SSA sent out a message today that they are dealing with chassis shortages.

3.) Ben E. Nutter – Things are hopefully going to be looking up in the coming month at this terminal. The broken transtainer was fixed last week. However we currently are still seeing delays in container availability and congestion within the terminal. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this terminal can right itself in the coming month.

4.) Trapac – This terminal seems to have received the least amount of complaints.

Some members of the shipping community have asked whether it is worthwhile to consider Los Angeles-Long Beach as an alternative. Please note that Los Angeles-Long Beach is also facing congestion issues related to chassis shortages.

I will be attending a CBFANC town hall meeting next week with other brokers, freight forwarders and hopefully some representatives from the Oakland terminals. I will report back with news from our meeting.

We wish everyone a happy Presidents’ Day Weekend!

Jimmy Ting
Great World Logistics (GWL)
Great World Customs Service
Great World Express
218 Littlefield Ave.
South San Francisco, CA 94080
Direct: 650-308-8838
Tel: 650-873-9050 x 1019
Fax: 650-873-7029 / 7024
Skype: jimmy_ting
email: jimmyting@gwlcorp.com
http://www.gwlcorp.com

Port of Oakland – Update on Ben E. Nutter Terminal

I’ve written and spoken with the shipping community extensively the past few months about the troubles at the port of Oakland. One issue I mentioned recently was how congestion had spread to other terminals in Oakland, beyond just SSA terminal. I learned today that the reason for congestion at Ben E. Nutter terminal is that one of their two transtainers has been broken since December. The terminal has been operating on only one transtainer for over one month. This is the reason why many containers have remained decked and unavailable for days after vessel arrival. It is also the reason why we have been unable to request wheeled containers during this time. This terminal primarily serves Evergreen vessels. Speaking with Evergreen representatives today, I learned that they don’t expect the broken transtainer to be repaired until sometime in February. Until then, we can continue to expect delays in container availability.

-Jimmy Ting

Great World Logistics (GWL)
Great World Customs Service
Great World Express

ALL Port of Oakland Terminals Continue to Operate Slowly

I’ve mentioned over the last half year about the problems at SSA terminal in Oakland. However it is important to note that SSA is not alone when it comes to causing problems for the importing community. Over the past three weeks, we have seen containers at Ports of America take over a week after arrival to become available for a pickup appointment. We recently experienced the same situation with another container at Ben E. Nutter Terminal. From talking to truckers, these problems are widespread across all the Oakland terminals.

Truckers have also advised us that they are being closed out of terminals by early/mid afternoon each day. One local drayage company, Devine Intermodal, discusses this issue in detail on their news site. If truckers are not able to pick up containers in the mid-afternoon, they will not be able to deliver the required number of containers necessary to make a living wage.

At the heart of the matter of terminal efficiency apparently is $$$.

  • Terminal operators and the steamship lines that operate them want to save money by limiting the number of longshoremen used each day as well as the amount of overtime paid.
  • Longshoremen seem to be flexing their muscles and showing their ability to affect terminal efficiency in recent weeks in the slow buildup to their contract renewal negotiations. Note that the ILWU current contract is set to expire on June 30, 2014.

The end result of these issues is that importers will have to face the following:

  • An increase in the cost of trucking if drivers are not able to deliver their usual number of loads.
  • Delays in receiving containers as the terminals remain congested.

What is unfortunate is that we do not see a solution in the near future. As the steamship lines continue to lose money in recent years, we have seen them take a number of actions to save money:

  • Slow steaming to reduce fuel cost.
  • Pushing the responsibility for chassis rental directly onto the backs of importers.
  • Limiting the amount of labor used at terminals.

All of these actions add to the total cost that importers have to pay for bringing in their products while at the same time making it very difficult for importers to expedite shipments. I urge that importers in the Oakland and Northern California community plan accordingly and adjust their expectations in the coming year.

-Jimmy Ting

Great World Logistics (GWL)
Great World Customs Service
Great World Express