Congestion in the port of Rotterdam will persist until 2022

FILE IMAGE. View of a terminal in the Port of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, March 21, 2016. REUTERS / Michael Kooren

Leek Toby Sterling

Nov 11 (Reuters) – Congestion and bottlenecks in the movement of container traffic through the port of Rotterdam, Europe’s largest, could persist until 2022, port officials said Thursday, which could affect the economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although throughput volume is now above 2019 levels, it is limited by several logistical challenges that are being addressed, officials said at a press conference.

They noted that the immediate top priority was to improve the reliability of schedules, but that was difficult as the global fleet of ships has effectively been reduced by 25% due to longer wait times at key ports in Asia and the United States. .

Currently ships are not waiting outside Rotterdam, but storage capacity is full and connections to the European hinterland are not running smoothly.

“We don’t see any major change in the current situation until at least the end of 2022,” said Emile Hoogsteden, the port’s commercial vice president.

“As long as everyone keeps spending and ordering online, e-commerce, then we won’t see any change. So the congestion and bottlenecks will last, so we have to deal with and overcome the challenges.”

As an example, the port’s container director, Hans Nagtegaal, said the average “dwell time” per container has risen from four before the pandemic to seven days.

“You can imagine how that will affect the capacity of a terminal, but also the efficiency,” he said.

Last month, Rotterdam reported a 7.8% increase in TEUs (standard shipping containers) for the year through September, as economies and global trade continue to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hoogsteden said the increase was slowing now, to 2.2% in October.

Using the best port month of 2019 as a yardstick, “we see that there is still quite a gap between the potential volume that we could have handled and what we are currently handling,” he said.

The port is taking several short-term measures, including data sharing to increase the speed of throughput, and long-term infrastructure investments in expansions and inland connections.

(Reporting by Toby Sterling, Edited in Spanish by Juana Casas)

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