Hundreds of empty containers have formed a 60-foot mountain in a field near Felixstowe, Britain’s busiest container port, amid a crisis in global supply chains.
Shipping industry giant Maersk said “current constraints” at the port include congestion at the terminal and limited inland haulage options, which have been blamed on a shortage of lorry drivers.
The empty containers have been moved off-dock to free up space for cargo imports amid a rise in demand related to Christmas and the reopening of economies in the wake of the pandemic.
“Additional inland storage has been sourced and is currently being utilised to mitigate the volume of empties returning to Felixstowe,” said Maersk.
“Our immediate and top priority is to avoid further port congestion and disruptions for our customers as all constituents fight to normalise operations.”
Maersk Chief Executive Soren Skou described the current supply chain problems as “one gigantic bottleneck”. He said there was no end in sight to the crisis, which is expected to go on until next year.
The urgent need for more shipping capacity comes amid soaring consumer demand for everything from cars to furniture and labour shortages in the rebounding economy, leading to major backups at ports and higher prices.
“The supply-side of the logistics industry continued to be disrupted by Covid-19 and capacity shortages: container availability and air capacity remained tight, wait times for vessels outside of ports remained lengthy given the bottlenecks in landside transportation and warehousing,” said Maersk.
“This has resulted in shortages and challenged supply chain management services and thus driving up prices.”
Last month Maersk diverted some vessels from Felixstowe because of a lack of lorry drivers, meaning there was nowhere left to stack containers.