Perfect storm at Port of Felixstowe leads to haulier concerns for Christmas

The Port of Felixstowe Picture: ADAM BOUGHEY

A perfect storm has hit the Port of Felixstowe - Credit: Adam Boughey

Hauliers say they are fearing the lead up to Christmas after “a perfect storm” led to the number of containers building up at the Port of Felixstowe.  

A lack of HGV driver shortages, the pre-Christmas peak and congestion elsewhere in the industry has led to the build-up.  

Adam Searle at CP Transport in Felixstowe said: “All of the issues have been experienced before at different levels at different times. But obviously everything has faced a perfect storm in every industry with COVID, Brexit, driver shortages and now port congestion.  

“Last week we had to take empty containers all the way back up to Liverpool because there’s no space on Felixstowe docks.” 

Mr Searle said he remained concerned as to what the rest of the year held with some European drivers still yet to take their holiday after not going home for between 18 months to two years. 

“I’m scared for the final rush to Christmas,” he said.  

Alex Veitch, deputy director of public policy at Logistics UK, said: "Logistics UK’s members are reporting that some are struggling to source drivers to pick up and deliver containers, which is causing a backlog in the port which prevents new loads from being landed; there are also issues with finding drivers to work in the port itself. 

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"This could become a serious issue for UK supply chains, although there are steps government could take to help ease the situation.” 

Tom Cornwell, from the Road Haulage Association, said that the issues in the logistics industry would have an impact on the general public.  

"Because of the sheer amount of goods that we rely on HGVs to transport, naturally it's going to have an effect on everybody's daily lives,” he said.  

"We need to see the driver shortage being sorted. Having that training and programming in place to train new drivers into the industry. That ultimately will help us solve the driver shortage in the long term.” 

A spokesman for the Port of Felixstowe said: "The pre-Christmas peak combined with haulage shortages, congestion at inland terminals and poor vessel schedule reliability has resulted in a build-up of containers at the port." 

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