Thursday, January 13, 2022
Container chaos in China
Omikron paralyzes important freight port
Outbreaks of the new virus variant are causing the supply chain drama in China to worsen. Truck haulage companies near the third largest freight port in the world have to stop working. Container ships head for other ports that are already overloaded. The consequences are foreseeable.
There hasn’t been a break in the supply chain drama for two years. Before the situation could even remotely relax, the next stress test announced itself with the rampant Corona variant Omikron.
According to the US financial portal Bloomberg, the important Chinese freight port Ningbo south of Shanghai is down again just a few months after it was declared operational again after a corona shutdown. Virus outbreaks near the port have caused freight forwarders to cease their work, it is said.
Due to the lack of truck drivers, the shipping companies are instructing their freight giants to bypass the world’s third largest container port and switch to the ports in Shanghai and Xianmen, which are already overloaded. According to information from freight forwarders, the departure times in Shanghai have already been delayed by a week due to the additional rush.
More and more cities in China are currently struggling with Covid outbreaks. This is how Omikron is reported from the port city of Dalian. Cases of illness have also surfaced in the Shenzen technology center in the south of the country. Here the freighters should already be stowed in the port. In order to ease the situation, from Friday full containers can only be unloaded three days before the arrival of the ships, the terminal operator is quoted as saying.
Capacities at half speed
To prevent the virus from spreading, workers will be subjected to rigorous tests before the New Year’s bonfire days at the end of the month. In the northern Chinese city of Tianjen, for example, workers are required to take a half-day break. Truck drivers have to get tested every day before going to the ports. The capacities are said to have halved as a result.
Experts assume that the highly contagious Corona variant will exacerbate the existing problems in the supply chains. According to Vice-President Josh Brazil of the logistics information company project44, Omikron and the upcoming closings for the Chinese New Year will exacerbate the tense situation at ports. That in turn will have an impact on the supply of goods. Consumers in this country will therefore probably have to be prepared not only for longer waiting times, but also for rising prices in view of the shortage of goods.
Omikron is putting China and its strict zero-Covid strategy to the test with mass tests, curfews, quarantine and foreclosure, and not just in the supply chains. The Winter Games are scheduled to begin in Beijing on February 4th.