Congestion and bottlenecks in moving container traffic through the Port of Rotterdam, Europe’s largest, are likely to persist through 2022, port officials stated recently, potentially weighing on economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although throughput volume at the port is now above 2019 levels, it is being constrained by various logistical challenges the port is seeking to address.

The highest immediate priority was improving schedule reliability, but that was difficult as the global fleet of ships has effectively been reduced by 25 per cent by longer waiting times around key ports in Asia and the US.

Ships are not currently waiting outside Rotterdam, but storage capacities are full and connections with the European hinterland are not running smoothly.

The port’s director of containers Hans Nagtegaal said the average “dwell time” per container has increased to seven days from four before the pandemic. “You can imagine what that will do to the capacity of a terminal, but also the efficiency,” he said.

Last month Rotterdam reported a 7.8 per cent increase in TEUs for the year through September as economies and global trade continue to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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