While COVID-19 cases have decreased substantially in several countries due to the vaccines, other parts of the world are just beginning to experience record high numbers, affecting every part of their economy and supply chain. Vietnam is one of those countries.
After cases have begun to severely rise in Vietnam, port officials have chosen to suspend several operations at the port of Ho Chi Minh. There is a potential threat that the port could stop all operations entirely if they are not able to properly address the issues regarding capacity.
The port was already experiencing record volumes of shipments as eCommerce and global shipping activity skyrocketed, however, the surge in COVID-19 cases in the country coupled with the increased consumer demand is creating a catastrophe.
Port officials reported that their capacity at the port had already hit over 100%. The surge in COVID cases has affected nearly half of the ports staffing, meaning they are overbooked and severely understaffed to handle the containers at the yard. The port is now threatening to stop receiving container ships entirely if they cannot handle the existing congestion on the grounds.
Over the last several months, Vietnam was experiencing rather low COVID case counts, coming in around 300 per day. However, as of July, cases began to rise rapidly. The pandemic hit major cities hard first, causing them to go into lockdowns as they try to gain control of the case counts. The virus has now hit Ho Chi Minh hard, and Vietnam is now reporting an estimated 8,000 cases per day.
With 50% of the staff out sick, there is a major shortage of port officers, forklift drivers, and truckers to move containers around the port. At the beginning of August, the Ho Chi Minh terminal stopped handling reefer boxes and transshipments. Additionally, extra-long, oversized, and overloaded cargo movement has also been suspended. Suspensions are expected to be held until August 16th.
Currently, port officials are advising shippers to find alternative routes for their ocean cargo that don’t involve Ho Chi Minh’s port. The congestion combined with the staff shortage is essentially a guarantee that cargo will be majorly delayed and potentially incur fees along the way. The hope is that as cargo ships move elsewhere, the break will give them enough time to take care of the containers on the ground as staff recover, allowing them to come back full strength after the outbreaks are addressed.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding how this suspension may affect your shipments, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our team members! We would love to help in any way we can.