At least half of the suppliers that transport and provide services in the Port of Miami refuse or severely limit the collection of import boxes in one of the three container terminals of the port due to the high delays faced by their drivers. The delays stem from large volumes of cargo arriving at the South Florida Container Terminal (SFCT) before the terminal will complete the projects they undertook designed to handle more containers on a smaller parcel of land, the carriers said.
Carriers and terminal and PortMiami executives are scheduling to discuss serious congestion issues at SFCT on Friday, according to a notice from the Florida Association of Customs and Forwarding Agents (FCBFA). More than 50 moving companies serve the port, according to Drayage.com.
PortMiami said in a statement to JOC.com that it looks forward to «efforts to collaborate and seek solutions to the sum of the cargo activities that we are experiencing due to business growth and market demands.» Megan Conyers, FCBFA executive vice president, said the SFCT’s informal boycott comes at a time when Miami is making strong import numbers. As of July 2021, Miami terminals handled 330,122 TEUs in imports from Asia, an increase of 25.7 percent over the period last year and a 15.6 percent increase from 2019, according to data from PIERS, a company sister of JOC.com within IHS Markit. «It’s kind of a perfect storm,» Conyers said. FCBFA members “are struggling to find a carrier because we don’t have enough drivers. Now we have carriers refusing to service Miami’s busiest terminal? That’s like a nightmare right now. » Conyers estimates that between 50 and 60 percent of carriers in the Miami region refuse to send drivers to SFCT or the number of drivers going to the terminal is limited. «It is quite widespread,» he added. More than 50 carriers serve the Miami market, according to Drayage.com.
Jorge Mora, executive director of the intermodal airline Southern Companies, told JOC.com that he is sending some drivers to SFCT and they are limited, but that he is also charging a premium for those trips.
Mora said it has become increasingly common for drivers to spend up to four hours, including waiting times outside the gates or having to leave empty containers elsewhere, on a trip to SFCT. Because driver delays of five to eight hours have become more frequent in the last month, he said.
“Many marine terminals in the southeast are experiencing similar problems today. But without a doubt, Miami is one of the most difficult to operate at the moment,” said Mora.
Lazaro Gonzalez, president of Maximus Transportation, told JOC.com that he is only sending five or six of the company’s roughly 30 drivers to SFCT and paying them more because of the delays. On Thursday morning, a Maximus driver waited five hours to return an empty container to SFCT, he said.
González canceled his export business through SFCT thanks to these delays, referring to the fact that they are due in part to a reconfiguration of the yard that the terminal that was undertaken earlier this year as a result of the return of part of the land that it leases from PortMiami so it could be used in cruise terminals.
González said: «truck drivers entering the SFCT are essentially guided by a lane where all the stacks of containers are.» Drivers then have to wait alongside each pile while Rubber Tired Gantry Cranes (RTGs) excavate the specific container. With drivers waiting in a pile for the container to be removed with the other drivers picking up containers in it and others further away they also have to wait.»How can I pay my $ 40,000 insurance bill if the drivers are not moving?» Gonzalez said. “It used to be a day or two where you would see congestion. But now it’s every day. »
Terminal reconfiguration «in progress»
In November 2018, the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners, which oversees the port, modified the lease between the port and Terminal Link (Miami). Terminal Link, which is a joint venture of CMA CGM and China Holdings Group, operates SCFT together with APM Terminals.The amended lease required SFCT to return 20 of the 80 acres it had originally leased so that the land could develop into two new cruise terminals. In return, PortMiami would provide $ 42 million for the costs of acquiring RTG Electric, relocating the front door, and building an RTG repair shop.The board said in the resolution approving the amendment that the RTGs would allow «a higher load capacity from 358,000 TEUs per year to at least 500,000 TEUs per year in a smaller footprint.»Along with the new yard design, SFCT also implemented a truck designation system this year. Although the system had a goal of making the containerized collection process more seamless, Conyers said he understands the wireless networks and other infrastructure that connects appointments to the actual collection process are not in place yet. Conyers said the new yard setup, RTGs and appointment system could still be confirmed in a more efficient terminal once the terminal’s port workforce feels more secure using them.»Technically, the capacity is roughly the same, so they haven’t lost capacity,» Conyers said. «Everything is in progress, but it is not ready yet.»Meanwhile, the port and SFCT are seeking short-term relief, he said. SFCT may try to reconfigure another patio space so that the volumes can be accommodated.SFCT also opened its doors last Saturday and plans to do so again this weekend. For the past two weeks, SFCT started an hour earlier to give truckers more time to pick up containers. Conyers said that he hopes for Friday’s meeting motivation in the freight carriers and receivers in the region so that he can adjust the hours of operation in the warehouses to accommodate the cargo coming from SFCT. «We are trying to get everyone to work well together, so that everyone can give a little more now, so that we can have a short-term solution when these long-term solutions come into play,» he said.
However, chargers are already bearing the problems at SFCT, Conyers said. Because containers stay longer, shippers suffer from late invoices in addition to additional hauling costs. He said the Ocean Alliance, which primarily calls SFCT, is waiving the stay on a case-by-case basis.
The neighboring Port of Miami Terminal Operating Company (POMTOC) has received some of the vessels that were originally scheduled to call at SFCT. However, such diversions can also present problems if payment for a container has already been paid to SFCT, but must then be reimbursed and paid to POMTOC, he added.
«How much more can we add to costs when we already have maximum shipping costs?» Conyers said.
He said carriers are talking about alternate routes in case congestion continues, noting that Miami’s status as a major transshipment port to the Caribbean and Central and South America depends on all terminals running smoothly.
«If we reach a breaking point, all the exports and transshipments of which Miami is king will not come out,» he affirmed.