Yantian Port halts entry for export containers

The Port of Yantian said it will stop taking in loaded containers as congestion at the export hub in Southern China deteriorates.

The restriction will be implemented from 2200 hrs local time on May 25 to 2359 hrs on May 27 and will only be partly lifted afterwards for export boxes with their vessels expected to arrive at the port within the next four days.

Pickups of import or empty containers, however, will still be allowed over the period.

The decision was made due to “the serious delay in ship schedule has led to extremely high density at Yantian’s storage yard and has severely affected the operational efficiency at terminals”, a port statement said.

Schedules of vessels arriving in China have been partly disrupted by the pandemic-led logistics bottleneck at some foreign ports, especially those in the US, as well as by the fallout from the Suez Canal blockage.

However, Yantian’s move also comes with an ongoing coronavirus outbreak in the port area since last week.

The local health authorities reported another infection case on Tuesday following four confirmed earlier. All five port workers were involved in handling the Panama-flagged containership OOCL Vancouver on May 17.

It also warned that more cases might be found in the coming days.

The situation has raised carriers’ concerns over a worsening logistics logjam at the port.

Maersk told Lloyd’s List in a statement: “We expect the Yantian port congestion level will increase due to the quarantine measures implemented by local authorities, contingency plans for service recovery will be reviewed from our side.”

The city’s transport bureau has asked ports, shipping lines and logistics companies to tighten up their anti-virus measures, which could lead to further delay in vessel calls and cargo clearance based on past experience.

Port sources said Yantian has ordered a 14-day quarantine period for vessels with crew members who have tested positive. The isolation will start from the disembarkment date of the infected seafarers on board.

Crew with recent travel to ”high-risk” countries, such as India, are also requested to have a swab test before their vessels are allowed to dock.

Lloyd’s List has sought comments from the local port authorities.

Some carriers are said to have started to avoid Yantian to prevent further service delays.

(Source: Lloyd’s Loading List)