Peter Ward, CEO of the UK Warehousing Association (UKWA) has called on cargo owners to utilize available warehousing space rather than looking to government for help with quay rents and other port charges.
“Port charges are intended to keep cargo moving through the ports for good reason. An appeal to government for financial assistance to keep freight at the port is not only futile, it’s unhelpful in terms of keeping supply chains flowing,” he says. “There is still warehousing space available, albeit only some 10% of potential capacity, and UKWA has set up an Emergency Space Register specifically to assist cargo owners in identifying appropriate space quickly and cost-effectively.”
Ward adds that the issue is not about real estate and empty buildings, but fully equipped and serviced operational space, that can be taken up instantly on a plug-and-play basis.
“There are signs that the government is preparing to allow certain retailers – such as the large DIY sheds – to reopen at some point over the coming weeks. If that happens, obviously more warehousing space will become available as outbound flows recommence. Hopefully the government will give us sufficient time to plan for this, so that warehouse operators, drivers and so forth can be brought back from furlough into the workforce as soon as possible.”
However, if space does runs out, UKWA will also be able to support cargo owners in locating inland off dock storage facilities for fully loaded containers.
The key point, says Ward, is that should off dock storage be required, members can provide this under UKWA terms and conditions.
“There are real commercial risks to storing goods, in terms of ownership and liability, that should not be the responsibility of ports or shipping lines” he explains. “Once cleared through customs, loaded containers can be stored by our members under UKWA legal contracts which state that the ownership, insurance liability and risk sit with the cargo owner. We are keen to work together with all parties to offer a solution for cargo owners that also helps terminals and shipping lines keep boxes moving, while protecting them from unnecessary commercial risk.”