Hanjin containers are reportedly backing up at ports on the US West Coast and are beginning to clog logistical flows, which could ripple out across the supply chain.
The South Korean carrier, which entered into court administration on August 30, is carrying estimated $14bn worth of cargo inside its stranded containers, many of which are still onboard over 100 ships at sea.
Meanwhile, empty containers are taking up yard space and truck chassis that are needed elsewhere.
Cargo handlers, tug operators and ports are refusing to work with Hanjin unless they get paid up front, according to Reuters reports. Terminal operators in the California ports of Long Beach and Oakland are reportedly not taking back empty Hanjin containers.
“This is causing problems with the terminal operators and truckers who need the equipment” to haul full containers, Jonathan Gold, vice-president of supply chain and customs policy for the National Retail Federation, told Reuters.
“If it’s not fixed in the next couple of weeks, I think you’ll see a huge ripple effect across the industry,” said Weston LaBar, executive director for the Harbor Trucking Association in Long Beach.
GSC Logistics’ CEO Scott Taylor told Reuters his company is stuck with nearly 80 empty Hanjin containers on trailers that his company processed recently and could not return to a terminal operator at the Port of Oakland.
US supermarket chain Kroger told Reuters it has 880 shipping containers tied up on Hanjin ships and does not expect to be able to return the containers once the goods have been received.
Mario Cordero, chairman of the US Federal Maritime Commission, said shipping industry executives are discussing setting aside a staging area where truckers could drop off empty containers to free up trailers.
Cargo owners could resort to buying the containers carrying their goods in order to clear up any legal uncertainty around them and to return the truck chassis, Karen Vellutini of Devine Intermodal told Reuters.