Monday, December 22, 2014

Oakland Port Implements Anti-Congestion Measures

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Oakland said Dec. 22 that it has taken additional steps in an ongoing effort to manage container ships that have been arriving with unprecedented frequency the past few months within the San Francisco Bay.

The measures include a gate that was opened Dec. 21 at one of the port’s largest marine terminals to discharge additional import cargo; and an operational status update sent daily to hundreds of harbor truckers, ocean carriers and shippers to improve supply chain planning.

The port says the added features are expected to improve cargo flow, which has been slowed by increased container volume and a multitude of delayed vessels arriving simultaneously. From Dec. 20 to 22 alone, 13 ships called in Oakland; most well behind schedule, according to the port. Maritime officials say the number of ships in the SF Bay outstrips anything seen in the past decade.

“We welcome increased cargo volume at Oakland and we’ve got to do a better job of managing the flow,” port Maritime Director John Driscoll said. “We’re working every day with the marine terminals, truck drivers and shippers to pick up the pace.”

Import cargo volume has increased at Oakland in each of the last three months compared to 2013 totals. The port attributes the gains to aggressive marketing as well as congestion at other ports which caused cargo diversions to Oakland.

The port has said it has capacity to accept additional containers, but that operations have been hampered by off-schedule ships and recent labor-management disputes on the docks. The result has been a slowdown in cargo movement and long lines of trucks waiting to enter terminals.

Oakland has responded with extended hours, night gates and dedicated lanes in terminals to expedite simple transactions. The daily status update launched Dec. 22 is expected to provide the latest information on vessel arrivals, terminal operations and truck queues outside terminal gates.

Also, the Port of Oakland says, terminal operators plan to continue occasional night and weekend gates until cargo flows normalize. The port expects cargo volumes to moderate soon now that the peak holiday shipping season has passed.