The suspension of trucking services in several parts of China’s Zhejiang province, followed a COVID outbreak just over a week ago and has slowed the movement of cargo through one of China’s biggest and most important ports, Ningbo.
Strict controls were imposed on lorries moving goods to or from the Beilun district in Ningbo after the discovery of several cases of COVID in the area.
This suspension, along with restrictions on truckers in some areas in and around Zhejiang, halted operations at some yards and warehouses at Ningbo port.
The curbs began last week after the city reported an outbreak of COVID which led to the closure of container freight stations and factories in the Beilun district near to the port, raising fears that importers would be unable to stock up their inventories, forcing them to look for alternative shipping or products, which may feed into higher costs for the consumer.
Ningbo is one of the world’s top container gateways and a crucial part of the global supply chains that connects importers to factories in East China. The port was partly shut for weeks last August after a COVID outbreak, causing a slowdown in exports, disruptions and congestion across supply lines.
Container loading and discharge operations at Ningbo port have been operating normally, but the impact on trucking and access to the port has been severe, making it extremely difficult to bring containers in or out, adding to concerns that shipping lines may decide to omit Ningbo.
With just a few weeks until Chinese New Year many shippers have been diverting consignments to alternative ports, particularly Shanghai rather than risk long landside delays at Ningbo.
Yesterday the trade press were reporting that a major complication is the lack of trucking permits for commercial vehicles to enter the Beilun district, with just 6,000 permits released for the 20,000 trucks in the area and truckers with permits must take two nucleic acid tests in three days and are required not to leave their vehicles while in the marine terminal. In a customer-advisory, Maersk said that just 10% of trucking capacity is operating in the Ningbo area.
In a fast-moving situation, our network partners in Ningbo have confirmed that the port and local trucking has resumed normal operations and they expect that any backlog will be cleared quickly.
Elsewhere, nucleic acid testing for drivers are creating delays for local trucking and transport in the Shenzhen and Tianjin areas, but the cities are not closed and port terminals are operating normally.
Metro are operating our own container vessels within our group of companies from Ningbo and Shanghai directly to the UK for discharge and reloading. We have vessels loading this week at both ports and have not experienced any impact with departures operating on time against our schedules as we use alternative terminals. Once they have left China they do not stop at any further ports en route and we can achieve the fastest available transit into the UK for our customers.
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