LA and Long Beach ports to fine for pending cargo

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex will begin fining shipping companies if they let containers pile up as the nation’s busiest twin ports face an unprecedented ship backlog.

The Los Angeles and Long Beach Port Commissions voted on Friday to implement a 90-day “container excess stay fee” that sets time limits on how long containers can stay at marine terminals.

About 40% of all shipping containers entering the United States pass through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The number of ships awaiting unloading has reached record volumes.

As of Friday, there were 153 ships at anchor, moored or “loitering” – cruising while awaiting dockside space – and more than 100 of them were container ships, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California. , which monitors the traffic of port ships.

Ships anchored at the complex have well over half a million containers on board, officials said. They own hundreds of millions of dollars in toys, electronics, clothing and furniture.

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“We are going through a major crisis,” Mario Cordero, executive director of the port of Long Beach, told this port commission on Friday.

The congestion of ships disrupted the global supply chain and prompted the Biden administration to allow the port complex to operate around the clock to try to unload goods and deliver them to consumers in the run-up to Black Friday. and Christmas holidays.

The joint container charge program that begins November 1 will charge ocean carriers $ 100 per container. But the fine increases by $ 100 per container per day until the cargo moves.

Containers transported by truck can stay up to eight days before the start of sanctions, while containers transported by rail have a five-day delay, according to the Port of Los Angeles.

Sanctions will not take effect until November 15 at the earliest, however, depending on whether or not daily snapshots show progress in cleaning the docks.

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“Our goal with this program is not to generate income” but to make room for ships waiting to enter the port, Los Angeles Port Commission Chairman Jaime Lee said in a statement. .

The average wait time for picking up goods has doubled following an increase in imports partly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected traffic from Asian suppliers.

Another problem is the lack of storage space in industrial warehouses in the region. Before the outbreak, cargo destined for trucks typically left a terminal in less than four days, and containers destined for trains only languished for a few days.

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