Ports play a critical role in the development of many countries. They represent a country’s national heritage, culture, and local commercial attitudes. Simply put, ports are the gate ways for trade. Unfortunately, despite the rapid globalization and modernization, most ports are not as efficient as they should be and are becoming barriers to international trade.
If you are a keen follower of emerging trends, you will note that most ports are plagued with problems like clearance delays, inadequate investments, captivity issues, increased freight rates, lack of effective strategies, and inappropriate international mandates.
What is causing all these challenges? Here are factors affecting ports operations and what your country can do for them.
An unanticipated shift in tide levels can leave ships and vessels stranded for days and may also lead to costly accidents. How can this problem be solved? Well, for starters, port authorities should invest in technologies that allow them to predict and accurately measure water levels, current speed and direction, air temperature, and water salinity to ensure delays and accidents caused by these glitches are reduced.
If you have visited any port lately, you can agree that most ports do not have an up to date look. Most of them cannot cope with the demands of modern trade, and this has been a great cause of most problems in our ports. To solve this problem, governments should invest in deeper harbors, more jetties, wider entrances, and more hinterland areas. A modernized port will redefine the concept of ‘economic gateway.' A well-equipped port will make it possible to handle big ships and more cargo more quickly and efficiently. Ports are growth engines, and the expansions will lead to the progression of other businesses and offshore industries.
Port congestion has been a dilemma for decades, and the problem is getting worse with the introduction of mega-ships. Over the past ten years, most vessels have doubled in capacity and are getting bigger and bigger over time. Ironically, most ports remain same, and there are hardly any plans to renovate or expand them.
The increasing number of big vessels has significantly increased the cargo arriving at the same time. Also, larger ships take more time to offload, and this means more berth time. As a result, ships that arrive on time are forced to wait for berth space, and this has significantly affected the vessel schedule integrity. Congestion has also been caused by lack of coordination among terminal operators. The procedures they use are shambolic and out-dated. How can we reduce congestion in our ports? More should be allocated to our ports to ease expansion and efficacy. The terminal operators should also be more organized and come up with a modernized procedure to ensure containers are loaded and offloaded speedily and efficiently.
The idea behind ship alliances was upright as it enabled easy and cheap transportation. However, these alliances have contributed to most port problems, and they should be revised or replaced with better alternatives. Why? Ship alliances have resulted in ships carrying a mixed cargo from different shipping lines. A mixed load creates an operational problem when the vessel is being loaded or offloaded. The terminal operators have to place the containers in a planned and sequential manner, and this leads to time wastage resulting to more congestion. To deal with this problem, ship alliances should reduce the number of mixed containers so as to reduce the berthing time each ship takes. These unions can also use their vast networks and resources to push for relevant authorities interventions to expand ports' capacity.
Lack of Chassis
There was a time when carriers used to provide chassis for container shipments in most ports. However, the number the chassis decreased, and most carriers sold off their chassis. This resulted in a chassis crisis, which has been difficult to solve. The chassis crisis hindered the smooth movement of containers from one country to another and also led to congestion. This crisis can be resolved if carriers are encouraged to provide chassis for their shipments. Also, relevant port authorities should come up with smart procedures that will enable easy provision of chassis services.
This is another problem that has been facing the shipping industry for years. There are not enough truckers to handle the cargo in most ports, and this has contributed to the congestion you see in our ports. To solve this challenge, law makers should come up with policies and regulations that will encourage the formation of more trucking companies. Tax reduction can make it easy for trucking companies to find, hire, and retain drivers. Governments should also invest more in roads to solve this problem.
An active shipment sector is an essential ingredient for any economy. For this reason, ports should be modernized. Besides, enough resources should be set aside to ensure a smoothly operating shipment sector.