A PROPOSAL by the Port of Long Beach to reduce the free time for containerised cargo to be stored at its container terminals without charge from four days to six shifts has been met by strong opposition from retailers, who claim it could have the reverse effect of worsening congestion and delay the loading or discharge of containers from ships.
"We do not believe that reducing free time from four days - essentially eight shifts - to just six shifts, or three days, on its own will address the on-going congestion and throughput issues," said the National Retail Federation's (NRF) vice president Jonathan Gold, in a letter to port officials.
"Reducing free time as proposed will only lead to additional congestion and operational issues, and most importantly, potentially additional costs to NRF members by way of demurrage," he wrote, reported American Shipper.
"NRF members want to get their containers as soon as they are available. It is in their best interest to get the containers and not let them sit in the yard for long periods of time," wrote Gold.
"However, more times than not, they are not able to get their containers because of issues beyond their control.
"Many of these issues are continuously highlighted - lack of visibility into container readiness, excessive wait times for truckers, chassis availability, closed areas, appointment availability, customs holds, PierPass, etc."
The NRF added that any proposal to change free time should be adopted by both Long Beach and the neighbouring port of Los Angeles.
"Shippers should not be put into a position where the sister ports have different rules in place dealing with free time. This will only further exacerbate the congestion issues that currently plague the ports," the group said.
Source : HKSG.