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    Port Congestion at SSA Oakland Terminal Reaching Critical Levels

    I’ve been meaning to send out an email update regarding the Oakland port situation. As mentioned in my previous newsletters, with Ports America closing, a majority of containers previously going to Ports America have diverted to SSA Oakland. This has created an increasingly frustrating situation at SSA Terminal.

    SSA Terminal opens on weekdays at 7am. However during the past few weeks, the terminal is routinely closing most of the import pickup areas by around 9am to 9:30am due to heavy congestion. Regardless of whether a trucker has been waiting in line all morning to get into the terminal, once the terminal closes an area, the containers in that area become unavailable. These areas are not usually opening again until the mid afternoon, around 3pm. Unfortunately, the terminal cutoff time to pick up new transactions is usually between 2pm-2:30pm. Therefore even if a container becomes available at 3pm, it is unlikely that a trucker can pick up the container that same day.

    This situation has had the following effect:
    – Truckers are lining up very early in the morning, competing to get into the terminal and pick up containers before areas get closed. There have been stories of drivers waiting three hours or more and still being unable to pick up a container.
    – Even if a trucker is scheduled to pick up a container, there is a chance that they may be unable to pick up that specific container if the area gets closed out. Therefore it is very difficult to make certain when a specific container can get picked up for importers. There is no guarantee on any specific day that a container will get picked up. It is possible that the terminal may show a container being available in the morning, however by mid morning, the container may be moved to unavailable status.
    – Truckers are being stretched super thin. There just aren’t enough truckers to handle all the moves. Truckers are working based off of a queue, trying to get containers that arrived the earliest first. We are still experiencing a trucker shortage.

    In case you’re curious what the lines look like at SSA Terminal, here are links to two Youtube videos recently taken:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBxVvS7AeMU – This video was taken on Friday, February 26, 2016.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dj1_VkF96KI – This video was taken on Monday, February 22, 2016.

    What is the forecast for the future?

    Unfortunately, we expect things to get worse before they get better. There is not much hope for immediate relief. SSA terminal has Saturday gates open. However they are currently only available for One-Stop customers (importers who have more than 20 containers on any one vessel).

    This is currently the slow shipping season. Once we get to the peak shipping season, we may indeed see serious delays. We continue to ask importers to be patient with truck drivers as they do their best to navigate a challenging situation.

    -Jimmy Ting
    GWL Corp
    email: jimmyting@gwlcorp.com
    t: 650-873-9050 x1019