New cargo tariff appears to be bringing some early compliance at the Port of LA

A pending tariff that will charge ocean carriers for containers left too long on terminal property appears to be motivating faster movement of cargo before any fines have even been assessed.

Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka gave a report to the LA harbor commission on Thursday, Nov. 4, during which he said he was encouraged by what appears to be a proactive move to comply with the new regulation.

The new fee was announced on Oct. 25 and approved by commissioners four days later. The Port of Long Beach also has the same policy in place.

The “Container Excess Dwell Fee” is designed to clear docks needed to unload the large backup of ships outside the twin ports.

When the new fees — which are to be in effect for 90 days as of Nov. 1 — were announced, there were 91,300 containers in the LA port. Nearly 39,000 of those — or about 40% — had sat there for nine days or more, Seroka said.

As of 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night, Nov. 3, imports (on dock) were at 73,500, with cargo that had been sitting there for nine days or longer cut to 34,500.

“If we look back and compare that to Oct. 26, we see that the total number of containers on our docks has been reduced by 20% from that peak of 91,300 down to 73,500 containers,” Seroka said. “This is definitely starting to head in the right direction.”

A Port of Long Beach spokesman said there were about 25,000 containers at its terminals on Oct. 28 that would qualify for the fine. That number was 19% lower a week later, on Thursday.

While the program launched Nov. 1, fees won’t be levied until Nov. 15, port officials said, in order give companies time to adjust and make the necessary changes to clear out old cargo.

Under the joint policy, the ports will charge ocean carriers for each import container that falls under one of two categories: those being moved by truck that remain on dock at least nine days and containers leaving by rail that remain for at least six days.

Harbor Commissioner Anthony Pirozzi said news that older cargo already was being moved out was promising.

“We really don’t want to charge anybody the fee,” he said. “We just want them to pick up their cargo.

“I’m encouraged by what we’ve seen over the last 10 days but there’s still work to do,” Pirozzi added. “While recently unloaded cargo is moving out faster, older cargo still isn’t moving as fast as it needs to.”

Read the full article by the Los Angeles Daily News here.