Felixstowe Port chaos: a taste of Brexit to come?

Felixstowe, UK: Felixstowe Port users are complaining of “chaos” at the port with delays and failed IT systems.

The owner, Hutchison Ports, blames pre-Brexit stockpiling and the pandemic.

Last week, Evergreen directed one of its ships to bypass Felixstowe because of “serious port congestion”. The ship’s cargo was unloaded in Rotterdam instead and ferried to the UK via London’s Thamesport.

An Evergreen spokesman said the firm had been told by Felixstowe’s owner that a berthing slot – where cargo is unloaded – would not be available for up to 10 days after the ship’s scheduled arrival. “Such a delay is totally unacceptable,” he said.

Hutchison Ports UK said: “The imbalance in UK trade and Brexit stockpiling exacerbate current operational challenges and we are working with our customers and stakeholders to get through the current congestion.

“Performance at the port remains under pressure due to the Covid pandemic, high levels of import traffic, the large number of empty containers and a large amount of unusually long-stay containers held at the port.”

But the company said on its website that delays at Felixstowe would continue “at least into December and possibly through into the New Year”.

Felixstowe is the UK’s busiest container port, handling 100,000 units a week For months, hauliers have complained about Felixstowe’s Vehicle Booking System which truck drivers must use to gain ticketed entry to the port. A spokesman for Hutchison Ports UK disputed the claims about the system, saying that in recent days that empty slots have been available and that improvements to the system are under way.

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