Maersk said this week that it foresees the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach soon implementing the container dwell fee, announced in October and since delayed week after week, as the ports continue to tackle congestion. The company said in a rate announcement that the likelihood the fee will be implemented “has risen significantly this month.”
Lars Jensen, CEO at Danish container shipping consultancy firm Vespucci Maritime, agreed that the ports may soon feel more pressure to “address the dwell situation,” given that “dwell conditions appear not to be improving in the slack season and with the peak season … coming.” In fact, said Jensen on LinkedIn, dwell time has been gradually worsening since January.
Under the container dwell fee policy, developed by the ports in coordination with the Biden-Harris Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, the US Department of Transportation and multiple supply chain stakeholders, ocean carriers would be charged for each import container scheduled to move by truck beginning at nine days of dwell time. For containers moving by rail, the carriers would be charged for dwelling starting at six days. The fee would be $100 per container, increasing in $100 increments per container per day.
According to Maersk, “the relevant Port Authority will be charging the fee and submitting the bill to Ocean Carriers to act as collection agents to charge and invoice those with a cargo interest in the laden import containers.” The company noted that it “will collect any amounts due from cargo owners (or their designated demurrage payer) before releasing the cargo.”
To help customers mitigate their exposure to the fee, if implemented, Maersk has developed an off-dock drayage program for long-dwelling containers in LA and Newark, and is considering similar programs in other locations. It is also promoting a “Saturday gate incentive” in LA and Long Beach that offers a $100-per-container credit for import pickups until June 18.
Many container analysts are warning of a bullwhip effect coming to ports on North America’s west coast as Shanghai reopens after a lenthy covid lockdown and the peak season kicks in earlier than normal this month.
According to New York-based Ocean Audit, a total of 690,000 teu is destined from Asia to Long Beach and Los Angeles between yesterday and July 1, up from last year’s “extreme” 646,000 teu for the same period.