SoCal ports issue fines for withheld cargo

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex will begin to fine shipping companies if they let cargo containers pile up as the country’s busiest twin ports handle an unprecedented backlog of ships.

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

About 40% of all shipping containers entering the United States come through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The number of ships waiting to unload has risen to record volumes.

As of Friday, there were 153 ships at anchor, at berth or “floating” – sailing while waiting at dock – and more than 100 of them were container ships, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California, which monitors port ship traffic.

Ships anchored at the complex have well over half a million containers on board, officials said. They hold toys, electronics, clothing and furniture worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
“We are going through a significant crisis,” Mario Cordero, CEO of Port of Long Beach, told the Port Commission on Friday.

The Virgin of Ships has cut off the global supply chain and prompted the Biden administration to allow the port complex to operate 24 hours a day to try to get goods unloaded and out to consumers as Black Friday and the Christmas holiday season approach.

The joint container fee program, which starts on November 1, will charge $ 100 from seagoing vessels per year. container. But the fine increases by $ 100 per container a day until the load moves.

Containers moved by truck can stand for eight days before penalties begin, while containers moved by rail have a five-day deadline, according to the Port of Los Angeles.
The penalties will not take effect until 15 November at the earliest, however, depending on whether daily snapshots of the situation show progress in clearing the harbor.

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

The average waiting times for goods collection have doubled in the wake of an increase in imports, partly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected traffic from Asian suppliers.

Another problem is the lack of industrial storage space in the region. Before the increase, truck-bound cargo generally left a terminal in less than four days, and containers on the way to trains only languished for a few days.

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