Slowdowns by container truck drivers at the Gateway Terminals operated by APM Terminals threaten to worsen congestion in Nhava Sheva Port (Jawaharlal Nehru), India’s largest container gateway.
“The private terminal has been facing serious productivity and congestion issues over the past 20-25 days following the go-slow action by truckers,” a shipping line agent at Nhava Sheva said. “The terminal is able to perform only 10 to 12 moves an hour.”
The agent said because of increased congestion at the quayside and in the yard area, the terminal operator has temporarily shut the export gates for all services until further notice.
“Since the terminal remains closed for export intake, container inventory levels at the other two terminals have reached beyond handling limits, causing serious berthing delays, poor productivity and long export truck queues along the main highway system connecting the Nhava Sheva terminal gateways,” APL India said in a notice to customers. “Port congestion will continue until Gateway Terminals returns to normalcy.”
Gateway Terminals, also known as APMT Mumbai, handles about 40 percent of Nhava Sheva’s total container volume.
Last month, the DP World facility at the port experienced work stoppages over a wage contract dispute with its unionized dockworkers, disrupting operations for two weeks and creating a huge shipping backlog. Citing additional operational costs, several major carriers, including Maersk Line and CMA CGM, imposed congestion surcharges, ranging from $150 to $250 per 20-foot container, on all export and import cargo handled at the port. Maersk Line had lifted its surcharge.
Local trade associations are concerned that the ongoing labor unrest at the port could place severe pressure on shippers as they begin to move their Christmas orders. “Just when India’s exports are showing a much-needed turnaround, shipments at Nhava Sheva port terminals remains crippled as truck operators are now resorting to a go-slow, after almost a two-week strike by dockworkers,” Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC India) said in a statement.