The White House has approved a deal for America’s busiest port to operate 24/7 to help ease chronic supply chain delays.
The Port of Los Angeles stretches across 43 miles of shoreline and in 2020 processed a cargo volume of 9.2 million TEUs (20 foot equivalent units). In May this year it set a record by handling more than a million TEUs in a month, the first time any port in the western hemisphere has done so. Yet despite its capacity, the port is suffering from serious congestion, a problem that is impacting many industries, including fishing.
The waiting time for ships docking at the Port of Los Angeles and neighbouring Long Beach has increased to an average of ten days. And even when unloaded, the containers remain idle for at least another week before pick-up.
The long delays have been caused by a growth in cargo volume caused by the COVID pandemic, which triggered a shift to online shopping and meant that more goods need to be moved from distribution centres to customers. This in turn led to demand for containers outstripping supply, leading to astronomical increases in container and shipping costs.
Add to this a shortage of truckers and warehouse labour to move the freight after it has been unloaded from ships and – with the holiday season just around the corner – there is serious cause for concern.
In addition to the Government’s approval for night-time operations, California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed an order for agencies to find properties for the short-term storage of cargo and to find freight routes exempt from vehicle weight limits to allow trucks to carry heavier loads.