New York Port rushes to reduce rare traffic jams | Business


Port of New York and New Jersey works to remove small but rare container ship bottleneck anchored off Long Island as COVID-19 cases among dockworkers collide with surge freight volumes due to a pandemic.

“We have seen an increase in the number of workers quarantined,” Port Authority Director Sam Ruda said in an interview last week. The average wait at anchor for container ships was 4.75 days in the last week of 2021, compared to an average of 1.6 days for the whole of last year.

Jim McNamara, spokesperson for the International Longshoremen’s Association, said in an email that the number of its members unavailable for work due to COVID is around 350 per day. Still, he called the impact “slight” as some crews return from quarantine or illness and others are available from cruise ship terminals.

The New York-area port terminals, the busiest on the East Coast, have largely avoided backlogs like those at the twin gates of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., Where dozens of ships still face delays of more than three weeks to unload.

Ruda thanked the waterfront workforce and other stakeholders who run 24/7 operations for reducing the wait at New York anchorage. But some factors have converged to demand the queue: the spread of omicron across the region, year-end holidays for workers, and an increase in the number of chartered vessels requiring single berth space.

Add these problems to what was already a busy 2021 and a backlog was inevitable. The port has been operating at full capacity for almost two years, handling nearly 27% more volume in November 2021 than in November 2019.

“We’ve had basically five years of freight growth in the space of about 18, 20 months,” Ruda said.

The number of containers per vessel visit is also notable. From January to October of last year, the New York-New Jersey terminals accommodated 298 ships capable of carrying 10,000 to 15,000 20-foot containers, up from 55 four years earlier, in a 1, $ 7 billion to raise the Bayonne Bridge to accommodate these larger ships. has been completed.

Ruda said the port started in 2022 with 12 to 13 ships at anchor and by mid-week the tally had dropped to nine. Mid-afternoon Friday, when a snowstorm interrupted operations, the port had 11 ships at anchor.

“On an order of magnitude, it seems quite small, but it has our attention,” he said.

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, there aren’t many visible signs of improvement despite the intervention of the Biden administration to unblock the pile-up. The average mooring space wait for ships arriving in Los Angeles hit a record 23.4 days last week, down from 20.9 on December 1, when President Joe Biden called for better coordination and faster movement of goods in the country’s ports.

West Coast shipments began in November 2020 under then-President Donald Trump and still have not been cleared due to increased import volumes, labor shortages and insufficient equipment such as containers and truck trailers needed to move them.

As of Friday evening, 105 container ships lined up to enter LA-Long Beach, up from 91 on December 29, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California.

Such congestion puts a strain on shipping capacity and helps increase the cost of moving goods from Asia to America’s two major coasts, ultimately resulting in higher costs for American businesses and consumers.

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