With the discovery of several asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 in the Shenzen’s Yantian port in city of southern China, clients were warned by the major shipping companies about the worsening congestion in Shenzen’s Yantian port.
One of China’s busiest container port in the Yantian International Container Terminal (YICT) which has the annual handling volume of more than 13 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), since the discovery of the virus within the port much more stringent disinfections and quarantine measures were imposed.
According to Refinitiv ship tracking data, there is more than 40 container ships that were currently anchored in open water outside the terminal.
Top international container lines said they would be skipping some port calls to Yantian to ease the pressure, while shipping sources added that some vessels may be re-routed to other destinations.
“The overall operation productivity at YICT has been adversely impacted, and we expect the current vessel berthing delays and port congestion situation will likely continue for at least a week,” the world’s no. 2 line MSC said in a customer advisory on Wednesday.
Due to the surge in demand for consumer good, rates in global container shipping has increased which is more than the record on the recent months.
A heavy backlog in the container yard and congestion outside the port happened when Yantian port suspends the acceptance of exportladen container ships temporarily. Resuming the processing on Monday the Yantian would be processing more than 23,000 containers who are waiting to be exported.
Maersk is the world’s leading container said that the expected congestion and delay will last at least 14 days which is longer than it’s expectation of 12 days. It is estimated that operations in the eastern area of Yantian terminal where larger vessels mainly berth would remain at around 30% of their normal level according to Maersk.
Alerting their customers to the growing delays and congestion and the possibility of not calling at Yantian is already starting in other shipping firms such as COSCO Shipping, Hapag-Lloyd, and ONE.
“The local government is paying great attention to the disinfection measures at Yantian, as right now is the busiest season for exports and Yantian is one of the biggest transportation hubs for European and American lines,” said a person close to Yantian port, who is not authorised to talk to media.
Shipping companies and Chinese authorities have advised vessels to divert to nearby ports, including Shenzen’s west port and Guangzhou’s Nansha port, which are operating normally despite sporadic cases of the coronavirus in the region.
“There are not as many (virus) cases in Yantian as the nearby cities. But more rounds of nucleic acid testing will need to be done. Thus it will take some time until the port resumes full operations,” said the person close to the port.