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U.S. Ports Hit By Mounting Cargo Delays; RILA Demands Immediate Help

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are experiencing mounting cargo backlogs, causing considerable shipping delays. The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), concerned that the problem is worsening, sent a letter to port officials requesting “immediate and direct relief.”

The congestion has persisted for months, prompting the Port Authority to assemble a special task force to appraise the problem. However, the particularly severe winter weather has only exacerbated the situation, creating further delays. And RILA has complained that the task force is too little of a response too late since its report isn’t scheduled to be released until June. Kelly Kolby, RILA’s vice president for government affairs, said, “Considering the current impact that the port disruption is having on retailers’ supply chains, the situation needs to be alleviated immediately.” Kolb continued, “The backlog has become untenable, and retailers cannot afford to wait for improvements.”

RILA analysts have proposed some immediate remedies of their own. For example, they have suggested that more terminal operators be put on duty simultaneously–at least two shifts at a time–until the problem is finally resolved. Also, port officials should increase their oversight of vessel traffic to ease the long queues accumulating at single terminals. Further, they have suggested a streamlined inspection process for all vessels and a temporary moratorium on user charges for delays until normal operations resume.

In general, inclement weather has had a disruptive influence on cargo shipments this winter season in the U.S. Virginia, too, has been experiencing significant delays. Joe Harris, spokesman for the Virginia Port Authority, said, that they were “having periods where the wait times are far in excess of what we’re used to seeing.”