- The busiest container port in the UK is dealing with major traffic due to a shortage of drivers.
- The Port of Felixstowe handles nearly 40% of all containers sent to and from the UK.
- ITV News reported that some companies are already starting to feel the impacts of the congestion.
The largest container port in the UK is taking steps to address increasing cargo congestion but may begin turning incoming ships away if the problem persists, according to ITV News.
The Port of Felixstowe, which handles nearly 40% of all containers sent to and from the UK, is facing a massive backlog of ships as the site approaches its busiest time of year: the holiday season.
According to ITV, the average shipping container that arrives at the port is currently spending more than nine days — two times the average “dwell time” of 2020 — sitting at Felixstowe.
The logjam is in part, due to a shortage of drivers to operate heavy goods vehicles, known as HGV drivers, the outlet reported. The port’s management is reportedly working to ease the traffic but could restrict access to incoming vessels if the situation continues to deteriorate.
The HGV driver shortage has led to a major decrease in unloadings and reloadings of ships and has meant fewer containers are being collected. Haulers at the port told ITV they estimated collections in September were down 15% to 20%, leaving between 5,000 and 7,500 containers stacked at the port.
As a result, the port has exceeded its “empty storage capacity,” and has nearly 50,000 empty containers on site, according to the outlet.
Major brand names are starting to be affected by the congestion, with IKEA telling ITV that is has faced “some challenges in returning containers” to the port, but has only seen “minimal impact” thus far. The furniture giant did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.
Nestle and General Foods also told the outlet they’ve felt the effects of the shortage.
Some shipping companies have already had empty containers redirected to other UK ports, according to ITV, including Maersk, Evergreen Marine Corp, and CCMA-CGM. But import volume levels are still rising, and the port has reportedly started telling customers that it’s “at capacity.
The traffic comes as ports in California deal with similar record-breaking log jams. Last month, 56 cargo ships were stuck at anchor or in drift areas off of Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.