A fresh problem is emerging from the ongoing global shipping delays, with some shipping lines now avoiding transporting hazardous cargo altogether.
With congestion showing no signs of easing, and container space in more demand than ever before, dangerous goods are now becoming the items no one wants to move, with a number of shipping lines simply refusing to take on the liability.
We saw the unfortunate fire onboard the X-Press Pearl off the coast of Sri Lanka in May, with its containers loaded with ethanol, nitric acid, cosmetics and chemicals.
Since then restrictions around the movement of dangerous goods have only become worse.
While dangerous cargo does attract a surcharge, ongoing congestion and delays have pushed freight rates up significantly, meaning companies can currently charge just as much to ship general cargo.
Shipping lines are opting to avoid the risk and hassle of transporting dangerous goods, especially when they can make the same amount of money – or more – shipping other items.
Consumers are now facing the very real prospect of added delays on shipments that are already taking longer than usual to arrive.
It’s crucial you speak to those with industry knowledge and take their advice onboard, to try and stay one step ahead of the problem.
- Plan ahead: Christmas might feel like months away, but placing your product orders now is vital if you want your items before the Big Day.
- Source locally: It’s worth considering buying or manufacturing products within Australia, where possible. Costs might be slightly higher, but you will likely come close to breaking-even when you take into account not having to pay for shipping.
- Separate items where possible: If you can, try and split up your consignment so hazardous materials aren’t in your shipment. This may be difficult to do for some items, such as electronics, but if it’s possible for other products, it could save you precious time.
- Be prepared to wait: It won’t be the solution for everyone, but if you have time up your sleeve, patience is your friend as your items will arrive… eventually.
Many people don’t realise the extent of items that fall under the dangerous goods umbrella, which includes anything flammable, combustible or corrosive.
Lithium ion batteries are just one example, and are used within a large range of products including electronics, power tools, medical equipment, camera batteries, agricultural products and even watches.
Unfortunately, these goods can’t be transported on a whim, due to strict approvals processes and regulations around how cargo needs to be split up and stored, both at the port and onboard ships.
It means if space does free up onboard a vessel at the last minute, dangerous goods can’t simply be added.
And, even if the hazardous cargo makes it through the approvals chain, the Captain has the right to turn it down and decide not to take it.
I know the situation isn’t ideal, but none of us have a choice and it’s not just affecting Australian trade, it’s world-wide. The only real solution at the moment is time and staying informed.
Read more here.