Beneficial cargo owners are complaining about a spike in container dwell time to as much as 10 to 12 days in Prince Rupert, while the port marketing manager sees performance returning to a more normal 2.5 days during the slack cargo volume weeks beginning in mid-March.
Prince Rupert the past two weeks has struggled with a crush of pre-Lunar New Year shipments while contending with local snowstorms that caused a spike in container dwell times, but the Canadian Pacific Northwest port expects to return to normal cargo-handling fluidity in March.
“We are rebuilding the trust and confidence our shippers have come to rely on at Prince Rupert,” marketing manager Brian Friesen said Thursday. The port’s TEU throughput rose 26.9 percent year over year in January to 83,779 TEU, according to port statistics, continuing the momentum from 2017, when traffic jumped 26 percent to 926,540 TEU.
Prince Rupert has experienced up-and-down performance since last autumn due to double-digit growth in cargo volume, completion of construction projects, and rail service issues. Container dwell time, a key metric, improved in early February to an average of four days from about six days in January. The past two weeks have been especially busy with plants in Asia pushing their shipments out before closing on Feb. 16 for at least a week for the annual lunar New Year celebrations.
Kenneth O’Brien, chief operating officer of Gemini Shippers Group, said the non-vessel operating common carrier was advised by its ocean carrier that container dwell time in Prince Rupert is currently about 10 to 12 days. He listed the causes as port congestion, a shortage of rail cars, vessel bunching, and weather events in western Canada and along the rail network.
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