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Prolonged lockdown in China extends waiting times

With the continuation of lockdown within the Chinese financial hub Shanghai, the maritime industry’s worst fears have been realized

According to Bloomberg shipping data, as of 11 April, there were a total of 477 vessels waiting to enter China at various ports, such as the port of Shanghai, Ningbo-Zhoushan, Rizhao, Dongjiakou and Qingdao. Taking a peek at the vessel tracker, the area around Shanghai is dotted with hundreds of vessels with almost no room to move around.

While the port of Shanghai remains operational, it maintains a closed-loop system where port workers are isolated within the port and never go home. Because of the unpopularity of this system, the vessels stuck within the waters of Shanghai are caught between a rock and a hard place. This means that they either have to wait it out, or move to another port where there is more manpower. But moving to another port also equates to longer waiting times and facing the same congestion as what they experienced in Shanghai.

According to Managing Director of Toll Group Thomas Knudsen, “The port might work, but everything into the port doesn’t work. People are reluctant to go to the port, people are reluctant to go to the factories.”

Game of attrition and patience
For seafarers, this waiting game is truly a test of a person’s patience. Currently, most of the major shipping lines, such as CMA CGM, Hapag-Llyod, MSC, and Ocean Network Express (ONE), have advised their customers that their reefer cargoes would be diverted to other ports, while Maersk has dropped calling at Shanghai for some of their services.

Due to Shanghai’s reefer yard plug capacity being stretched to the limit, the port is unable to accept any cargoes that require refrigeration. Seafarers working on vessels with goods requiring refrigeration would probably find themselves being directed to another port by their employers. But this redirection also has a time limit – whether the refrigeration on the vessel runs out first or they successfully get to unload their cargoes on land after enduring the endless congestion and waiting.

It is clear that no matter what, seafarers on vessels hoping to call at ports along the coast of China will have to be patient to wait this lockdown and congestion out.


Crewing Online Media Team
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