06 Mar 2018

Waiting times in the seaports of Antwerp and Rotterdam (Congestion) | Update

Unfortunately waiting times for container barges at the deep-sea terminals in Antwerp and Rotterdam continue to be between 12 and 120 hours.

With regard to the problem of waiting times in Rotterdam: on 8 February the third Rotterdam container barge conference took place.

Here the sector was informed about the results of the three working groups formed with the purpose of making a contribution to a lasting solution of this problem.

One working group identified four main causes for the delays:

1.   Increasingly large seagoing ships result in ever-bigger handling slots (call sizes) and thus an increased demand for handling at peak times. As a consequence, less handling capacity is available for inland vessels. The frequent late arrivals of seagoing ships also make the situation more acute.

2.   Pick-up und drop-off time windows for containers at the deep-sea terminals are spaced increasingly close together. This limits the available time for the handling of inland vessels. More barges and containers have to be handled in ever-shorter times.

3.   The proportion of feeder sea vessels in deap-sea terminals has gone up. Since feeder sea vessels have higher handling priority than inland barges, less quay capacity and crane capacity is available for barges.

4.   The greater number of seaport terminals, due to the addition of newly-opened terminals. This makes the traffic flow of inland barges even more complex, especially since there is no coordinated planning covering all the deep-sea terminals, but only planning for the individual terminals. This leads to inefficient use of the existing handling capacities for inland barges.

As a measure for the short term it was announced that the software of Portbase is to be improved.  It was also agreed that the conference wishes to achieve better transparency on the performance of the whole transport chain by the definition of KPIs.

As a long-term measure, it is intended that in future the digital solution Nextlogic operated by the Port of Rotterdam should have cross-terminal control of the container flows in the port. Nextlogic is a joint initiative of ship operators, seaport terminals, depots, sea carriers and inland terminals in cooperation with the Port of Rotterdam and the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. The first services of Nextlogic are planned to be available from mid-2018.

The overall situation continues to be unsatisfactory and continues to have a negative impact on the costs of inland waterway transport.

We therefore ask your understanding of the fact that we must continue to make a congestion surcharge of EUR 19.50 per container. The surcharge applies irrespective of the navigational area of the Rhine, for all containers (full and empty) and all terminals in the seaports of Antwerp and Rotterdam.

Over the coming weeks we will measure and inform you about the extent to which the short term measures improve the situation. We will then suspend the surcharge straight away.

As usual, we will inform you monthly about the development of the waiting times and the measures adopted.

Since handling procedures in the seaport are not within the scope of our responsibility, unfortunately we cannot accept any responsibility for disruptions in this area, nor can we accept responsibility for delays (demurrage and retention) and the costs resulting from them.

We very much regret this measure and assure you that we will do our utmost to transport your containers punctually.

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