Shanghai port, world's busiest, grapples with traffic congestion


SHANGHAI, April 21 (Reuters) - The world's busiest container
port, Yangshan in China's business hub of Shanghai, is battling
severe congestion wrought by dense fog, higher-than-usual
volumes and the aftermath of a shake-up in shipping alliances,
ocean carriers and port officials say.
    More than 100 container vessels are now waiting outside the
port, where the average waiting time at berth last week went up
6.2 percent, to 18.2 hours, versus the previous week, according
to shipping software provider CargoSmart.
    CargoSmart said the fog started in early April and the
congestion had worsened in the past few days, with few clues to
when it might ease. Average delays for ships arriving at the
port jumped more than 42 percent to 53 hours between April 16
and 18 from the start of the month, it said.
    "We are making efforts to adjust and coordinate the entire
port's resources and making every effort to provide customers
with the fastest service," said a spokeswoman for Shanghai
International Port Group <600018.SS>, which first flagged the
situation last week in a statement on its website.
    German container shipping line Hapag-Lloyd <HLAG.DE> told
customers in a notice on Thursday that it was monitoring the
situation closely and working with the port to minimize delays.
    Denmark's Maersk Line, part of A.P. Moller-Maersk
<MAERSKb.CO>, also confirmed that some of its vessels had been
affected by the congestion.
    "We are closely working with Chinese ports to address any
operational challenges, and we have been able to maintain a very
constructive dialogue with our terminal partners," a
Beiijng-based spokeswoman for the company said.
    A rejig in global container shipping alliances involving
more than 10 ocean carriers, including Maersk, Hapag-Lloyd,
COSCO Shipping <601919.SS> <1919.HK> and Yang Ming Marine
Transportation <2609.TW> took effect on April 1, causing route
adjustments and also putting into operation larger ships.
    Executives also say demand for ocean freight has begun
improving after years in the doldrums, fuelling an increase in
volumes and rates. [nL5N1HD3Z3]
    Shanghai has been the world's busiest port by container
volumes since 2010. It processed 37.1 million boxes last year,
up 1.6 percent from the previous year, it said in a stock market
statement last month. [nH9N1E702Q]

 (Reporting by Brenda Goh in SHANGHAI and Keith Wallis in
LONDON; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
 ((; +86)(0)(21 6104 1763; Reuters


This article appears in: Stocks , World Markets , Politics
Referenced Symbols: 1919 , 2609 , HLAG , MAERSKB

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