In an unusual step, COSCO announced to its customers that it will temporarily switch the port of discharge for its containers destined to Canadian inland points aboard the vessels below. These containers will be unloaded at Vancouver (terminal Centerm), instead of at Prince Rupert.
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The carrier indicates the decision was made in an effort to alleviate the growing congestion and dwell times experienced recently at Prince Rupert.
The other steamship lines that share space on these vessels have not made similar announcements as of this time. Therefore, containers that are aboard these vessels but not moved by COSCO might still be unloaded at Prince Rupert. In its customer advisory, COSCO advised the changing of port of discharge will not affect any rate agreements currently in place, and diversion fees will not be applied by COSCO. COSCO said it will update the change of routing to CBSA.
In its September 12 bulletin, CIFFA indicated that forwarders and their customers can expect ongoing delays and increased dwell times at Canadian west coast ports for the next several weeks, especially at Prince Rupert and Deltaport. Volumes are high. Container stacks are growing higher at terminals and service levels are certainly not where they should be.
There is a combination of contributing factors and, while investments are being made to alleviate congestion in the system, these efforts may not bear fruit as quickly as needed. In the meantime, dwell times on the docks at Prince Rupert are edging up, with week 37 expected to average 6 to 7 days. Dwell times are expected to slowly decrease during weeks 38 and 39 and, by November, Prince Rupert dwells are expected to be back to its usual, under-three-day average. The Port of Vancouver container terminal performance update shows Centerm in the green, with dwell times under three days.