Amid “surging” port congestion across China, rising Covid cases and lockdowns in Shanghai have also caused additional cargo delays.
Some restrictions in Shenzhen were lifted this week, allowing factories to re-open ahead of schedule and help dampen the supply chain impact.
However, cargo operations are not yet back to normal, with one forwarder telling The Loadstar: “Most container freight stations in Shenzhen are not operating, or are very limited, due to a lack of staff.
“Sending LCL at the moment is very difficult ex-South China, so officially its business as usual, but reality is very different.”
Furthermore, in Shanghai, China’s zero-Covid policy is in full force, with lockdowns in affected districts and restrictions on transport.
According to Thomas Gronen, head of Greater China at Fibs Logistics, most of the Shanghai lockdowns are in residential areas and, therefore, while the ports are operating it is “very likely they are short-staffed and backlogs and congestion are building.”
To leave Shanghai, truck drivers require a PCR test within 48 hours – “if the driver isn’t in lockdown” – and again to re-enter the city.
“But also, for example, Jiangsu province has its own requirements for entering the province,” Mr Gronen said. “And then, within Jiangsu, the cities each have their own requirements for entering their territory.
“We are now asking shippers to do local trucking themselves as it’s much easier for a local trucker to leave and re-enter the city.
“The situation in Shenzhen is similar, but more severe in regard to trucking, as it’s apparently almost impossible now to get any truck in Shenzhen city to pick up empty equipment and deliver to the port,” he added.
Meanwhile, the deteriorating Covid situation has raised concerns over worsening port congestion in China. For example, CMA CGM said this week Yantian and Shekou were experiencing longer waiting times. According to Bloomberg, there are 174 vessels anchored or loading across South China – the most since October when the region was affected by typhoons.
Shipping analyst Linerlytica said Chinese ports had seen a “sudden surge” in vessel congestion over the past week, resulting in all-time highs in global port congestion of 3.58m teu – 14.1% of the total fleet.
It added: “In North China, congestion at Qingdao has seen increased vessel waiting times of two-to-five days. Lower port productivity and dense fog have contributed to congestion that is the worst seen in the Bohai region since 2020.
“Congestion has also built up at Shanghai and Ningbo, with dense fog forcing several terminals to shut over the past week.
“Restrictions on truck movements have impacted trucking services for container pick up and delivery, and this has impacted yard productivity especially in Qingdao, Shanghai and Shenzhen."