COVID and its variants keep causing havoc by stumping the working of all industries from time to time. The shipping and container industry are the most hit ones’ as tons of cargoes are transferred from one place to another to fulfill the daily needs of people. This year COVID’s new variant is spreading its wings in many countries causing huge chaos and sending maritime shipping container transportation processes to mayhem. The nucleic acid samples from 11,000 workers in Tianjin Port Group have been collected as Tianjin, the port city, goes to partial lockdown. On January 9, Tianjin city started mass testing for the overall population i.e. 14 million people, and to comply with COVID-19 guidelines under epidemic control measures, Tianjin Port Group followed the suit by testing every worker there.
Tianjin is renowned as the eighth busiest container port in the world. In 2020, the port successfully handled and managed 18.53 million TEU. In a hot war state-like situation, the port authorities have set 13 points for swab collection from the port employees. According to Tianjin Port Group officials, the terminal functioning has not been hampered and is in a continuous process. And no land-side transport delays have been seen. Linerlytica analyst Tan Hua Joo in an interview told Container News “No impact on vessel operations so far but inland activities are impacted.” The Omicron variant that is highly transmissible is the reason for the latest havoc. Intercity commutes like buses and trains have been suspended and the residents are advised to stay in their homes unless it is urgent.
As per Tianjin Government, the Omicron variant’s two local cases have been seen till last weekend and the testing for people from 4 districts has been tested till January 9. Other than this, various other district testings’ are in proceedings. The Winter Olympics, in Beijing, is going to be in less than a month which is why the Government is gearing all the testing to adhere to the state’s zero-COVID-19 policy. Xi’an and Yuzhou cities are also under lockdown after the Omicron cases were detected.
Earlier during the pandemic, people had witnessed mayhem in container shipping, and the maritime container and shipping industry saw huge waiting lines of vessels waiting to unload the cargo. This has hampered the cargo transportation industries’ whole process and has been one of the gravest causes of port congestion. There has been a huge shortage of empty shipping containers as most of the metal cargo containers were either waiting to be loaded on the ship or unloaded from it. The shipping lines, freight container suppliers, and everyone are trying to find a totally different approach to handle this cargo scarcity situation.
Though we cannot put all the blame on COVID for being the reason for container shortage it has the major share behind the alarming supply chain disturbance causes. Other causes behind such disturbances are different weather conditions. When because of the extreme weather, the ships get stuck, and along with them get stuck the freight containers. Other than this, bad planning and giving over-attention to weather forecasts may also lead to container shortage. Some more reasons behind this are governmental changing regulations, fluctuating container transportation costs, human error, and many times absent documents. All of the above factors jolted the supply chain, thus contributing to a shortage of steel shipping containers.