ARA Ports, Container Carriers & Surcharges on Multimodal Operations

Again all stakeholders are pointing fingers to the splinters in the eyes of everybody else while not willing to see the beam sticking in their own eye.

And than there is COVID-19, the most convenient excuse to claim surcharges and implement excessive 10,000 Usd+ ocean freight levels. The MSC’s, CMA-CGM’s, Maersk’s, Hapag-Lloyd’s etc… now all hide their failure to anticipate on “unforeseen” events. Fortunately on top of the COVID-19 pandemic they also have the Suez incident. The consequences of all this is…. surcharges and market damaging measures.

Hapag-Lloyd is suspending their services between Europe, the Mediterranean and West-Africa. If you have a all-in deal with Hapag-Lloyd to deliver your containers inland they will conveniently route your container through German Seaports and add a congestion surcharge of 25 Euro / container – regardless the transportmode.

Maersk is informing their “Valued Customers” on a congestion surcharge to/from North West Continent main ports of 10,- Euro for Barge and Rail and 25, Euro for truck. It adds to their “very satisfied” 1st quarter report showing “record high levels” of EBITDA of Usd 4 Bn. Gateway EBITDA increase of 52%. And what to say of an EBITDA increase of 201% on Logistics & Services. Expectations Maersk Consolidated FYE 2021 +100%.

Will it be different with CMA-CGM and MSC when the CEO’s are now all ex Maersk executives ? What is the saying? When you host a tramp dog you als host his fleas. So its all the terminals to blame – is it ? With the Suez incident, and the diversion of ULCC’s over the Cape it was expected that ports and terminals would come under stress. From reliable sources i learn that terminals in the ARA Range are at 99% storage capacity and at a point where you can not move in any direction on the yard. So blame the Terminals. Or not ? See the explaining photo.

Just when I thought that it could not be more crazy ( Photo – Antwerp 2021-05-11 – 17:14). It shows one of the two PSA Scheldt Terminals in Antwerp with 2 small ocean container vessels alongside and out of the 14 cranes, 4 working the ocean vessel, 1 (read one) is working barges and 9 (nine) are idle. That would be O.K. if not approx. 5 to 6 barges are idle waiting for days for a slot for being handled and the general waiting / idle time for barges is 2-3 days. So what is causing congestion for inland navigation?

And do you know who pays for all these exorbitant freight levels and surcharges ? Yes, You and I when we buy pants and socks, laptops or dumb-phones. And since you and I are the “Silent Mass” it continues and nobody cares.

The port authorities say that the terminals and carriers are their customers – not the citizen-consumers. The Terminals say that the carriers and multimodal land operators are their customers – not the citizen-consumers. The carriers say that COVID-19 and Suez incident are the cause – not the citizen-consumers. The inland transport operators say that the carriers and the terminals are the cause of the inefficiency – not the citizen-consumers. And who pays the bill ? The citizen-consumer.

Nobody takes responsibility. Nobody feels accountable. And the Citizen-Consumer pays the bills. Where are these zillion consumer associations supposed to defend the interests of consumers? Where are our elected politicians supposed to defend the interests of citizens ?

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