Shipping analytics firm Windward says 20% of the world’s 9,000 active container ships are stuck in traffic at congested ports. Around 30% of that backlog is in China alone, where Omicron outbreaks are snarling supply chains.
With China authorities forcing multiple cities into lockdown to counter the country’s worst COVID outbreak since the start of the pandemic, ships have piled up outside Shanghai and other container docks.
Shanghai has now been in lockdown for around four weeks, with some reports of residents struggling to secure food and access health care.
Windward claims that the lockdowns have resulted in the number of container ships queued at China’s coast almost doubling. On April 19 2022, 506 vessels were recorded awaiting berthing space at Chinese docks. This is an increase of 195% from the 260 awaiting berthing space in February.
Prior to the lockdowns, congestion at China’s ports accounted for only 14.8% of the global container backlog, versus roughly one-third now.
Shanghai port authorities, however, say the port is operating normally and has suffered zero delays thanks to a closed loop system keeping staff on-site.
Restrictions on cross-border trucking and movement throughout the city have prevented workers from off-loading and on-boarding shipping containers, creating delays.