There has been a lot of noise made recently about container hire/detention charges.
Shipping lines are in the business of having satisfied customers. If you have a specific exceptional circumstance, and you are unable to meet your obligations, talk to your carrier as soon as you can.
Most shipping lines are willing to listen and make determinations on a case-by-case basis to reduce the financial burden during this difficult time.
Help your carrier to help you – return the box
Be aware that shipping lines need their containers to carry out your business… shippers are among the first categories of people to experience difficulties when there is a shortfall in available containers, be they dry, food grade or reefer.
At this time, no additional allowance has been made by the terminals in Australia to extend the free time of port storage at the terminal (demurrage).
This is a good thing as we all have a vested interest in seeing containers picked up from the terminal (minimising the risk of terminal congestion) unpacked and returned for export.
This is what keeps trade flowing.
Containers: essential to the supply chain
It would also not be good for shipping lines to make a general extension on de-hire periods as it would encourage all, not only those in earnest need, to be slow to unpack and return their containers.
Containers are an essential part of the supply chain and they need to remain in circulation. Without containers there is no carriage. Their rapid processing, unpacking and return needs to be incentivised.
Returning boxes is even more vital when there is a shortage in container availability because of reduced services.
If you don’t return your shipping line’s container on time, then the cost to the shipping line is not only the cost of the container. It is also opportunity cost of the lost revenue for a sale that the shipping line could not make.
It should also be remembered that these container charges are a commercial matter between the shipper and the carrier. They are part of the carriage contract, so shippers should consider the full cost of their transport when choosing their carrier.
New Zealand – an inappropriate comparison
Recently some agitators have tried to draw a comparison between New Zealand and Australia in relation to overdue container de-hire relief.
New Zealand have got a few things wrong and this is one of them. Their Level 4 COVID-19 Alert locks down exports and stops a lot of the freight and logistics industry by classifying it as “non-essential”.
This is not what is happening here.
Australia has done the opposite by encouraging and supporting the movement of all freight and by generally exempting the freight and logistics sector from restrictions on the movement of personnel.
As a result, the ports and depots in Australia all remain operational and the wheels of industry and trade continue to turn. New Zealand is in a completely different situation so it is not sensible to draw a comparison.