Calls for state of emergency to be declared in California over shipping crisis

California’s ports in Long Beach and Los Angeles move 40 per cent of container imports in the US

Jade Bremner
Friday 22 October 2021 15:21
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The head of the California Trucking Association has said that a state of emergency should be declared in California over the chaos at the ports.

"I think we are in a situation in California where a state of emergency related to the ports is certainly something that should be considered," Shawn Yadon, the CEO of the California Trucking Association told Fox News.

The clogged ports are being caused by global supply issues, a surge in demand for goods for the holiday season, and local labour shortages of dockworkers and truck drivers.

The trucking industry is in need of an estimated 80,000 drivers, Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Association, told CNN. Pre-pandemic the industry was already operating on reduced staff numbers, with a shortage of 61,500 truckers.

California’s ports in Long Beach and Los Angeles move 40 per cent of container imports in the US. The Biden administration announced last week that the port of Los Angeles would follow the example of Long Beach and move to 24/7 operations to reduce the blockages. President Biden called for all areas of the supply chain to step up their operations in the coming weeks

“For the positive impact to be felt all across the country and by all of you at home, we need major retailers who ordered the goods and the freight movers who take the goods from the ships to factories and to stores to step up as well,” he said.

Other ports around the US are suffering similar problems, in Savannah around 70 cargo ships could be seen lining up to get into port this week, with tourists arriving to see the unusual sight of giant vessels in a queue.

There have been warnings of toy shortages, clothes and food shortages over the Christmas period, plus soaring prices for goods. Consumers are being advised to plan ahead for the holidays.

Freight-tracking company Freightos has said that container costs between China and the US have jumped to $20,000 in the past year, compared with only $4,000 a year ago, with prices between countries jumping 500 per cent year on year.

“I half-jokingly tell people ‘order your Christmas presents now because otherwise on Christmas day, there may just be a picture of something that’s not coming until February or March,’” said Scott Price, president of UPS, told AP in September.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill has earmarked funds to address national transport issues. A state of emergency is usually used to protect citizens, and focus resources on a problem immediately. California recently declared a state of emergency in response to an oil spill near Huntington Beach. “The state is moving to cut red tape and mobilise all available resources to protect public health and the environment," Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement at the beginning of October.

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