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Biggest LA Port Faces Massive Traffic Jam as Over 60 Ships Unable to Unload Their Cargo

© REUTERS / MIKE BLAKEA record number of cargo container ships wait to unload due to the jammed ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach near Long Beach, California, U.S., September 22, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A record number of cargo container ships wait to unload due to the  jammed ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach near Long Beach, California, U.S., September 22, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Blake - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.09.2021
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The jams are linked to several factors, including staffing problems that have been bugging American companies in the aftermath of the pandemic's onset. Despite high levels of unemployment, many firms can't hire enough personnel to run their operations at full capacity.
Some 62 container ships are stuck outside ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach amid disruptions in supply chains in the US, the Daily Mail has reported, citing satellite photos showing the massive maritime jam. The said ports are responsible for processing 40% of all containers arriving in the US and are among the main entries for Chinese goods into the American market.
According to the media outlet, the queue to berth at the ports is the longest since the onset of the pandemic and is at least three times longer than two months ago. Over 40 ships are anchored, while 20 more are simply drifting, the Marine Exchange of Southern California reported.
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Port officials say that the reason for the maritime jam is a massive backlog at the port complex caused by the labour shortage that it is experiencing. Workers have been overwhelmed by the number of arriving containers since at least August, but the port is working on implementing an experimental system that would allow receiving vessels on a 24/7 basis.

"We welcome this pilot project by TTI as a first step toward extending gates to 24/7 operations, and we encourage our cargo owners and trucking partners to give this innovative program a try", Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero said.

The LA ports are not the only ones being overwhelmed by arriving goods – the shipping company FedEx is currently rerouting over 600,000 packages per day in a dire attempt to sort out the backlog. The reason for that is similar: many of the FedEx facilities are understaffed. Some of them have only 65% of the needed number of employees and are operating at 25% of their potential capacity at best. This affects the shipping time, cost and, possibly, exacerbates the backlog of wares at ports.
Chief Financial Officer of FedEx Mike Lenz projected that the issues will persist throughout the remainder of 2021, with the impending holiday season exacerbating the existing problems with understaffing. The Daily Mail noted that the backlog at ports as well as shipping issues have already affected the prices for artificial Christmas trees, without specifying the spike in the price tags.
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