TORONTO, Ont.–In its March 4 bulletin, the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association noted that notwithstanding Port Metro Vancouver’s protestations that the port is ‘open for business’, “the fact is that very few trucks are moving in or out of the terminals. There appears to be considerable sympathy among the entire trucking community for the inefficiencies at the terminals and many drivers are simply not working. Intimidation, however, does seem to be working. Although everyone had hoped that Monday would see truckers back to work that was not the case: the situation has not improved. With a combination of sympathy and intimidation, the UTA has effectively shut down truck activity at Canada’s Asia Pacific Gateway. Unifor’s approximate 400 truck drivers will officially join the non union drivers who are not working, at noon on Thursday March 6 if agreement on the outstanding issues cannot be reached.”
The association noted that when it clicked on the PMV webcams Monday at 2:30 local time and looked through the cameras at Commissioner Gates and Deltaport and Deltaport South, there was not a single truck on the roads into the terminals.
“On February 28th at Deltaport there were 117 containers moved – when a normal day is +/- 1,700 containers. Vanterm stats show a similar story,” the bulletin noted.
On behalf of several of its members, the British Columbia Trucking Association (BCTA) prepared a proposal of solutions that it was hoped would convince drivers to return to work. Port Metro Vancouver’s response to the 8 point proposal has been distributed and is on the BCTA website. As of yesterday, UTA drivers had not responded positively and the situation seems to be a stalemate.
“If this situation is not resolved quickly, (this week or early next week) one would assume that soon the already full terminals will run out of space and container vessels will not be able to unload. Vessels would then, presumably, go to the closest port or the next port on their rotation to discharge. Those ports will be in the USA and admissibility to the USA would be based on advance filing requirements having been met – ISF 5+2 being the most likely requirement. The question that then must be raised is whether or not the US advance filing requirements have been met on those containers and can they be discharged in the USA?” said CIFFA.
At least one CIFFA member has advised that they have containers at the port and now are being charged storage by Vanterm. When questioned, the response from Vanterm was: “Please note the terminals are operating as normal and we have transactions every day for deliveries. Therefore, we do not waive any demurrage charges in the meantime.”
Membership should communicate with importers and exporters to ensure that the true situation is fully understood, and freight forwarders should be prepared to address these issues with their carriers.
Canadian importers and exporters are paying the price of a gateway model that is broken. CIFFA will continue to reach out to stakeholder representatives to obtain current information, which we will share with members as it is available. CIFFA will also continue to work with stakeholders to seek sustainable and fair, long term solutions.