Los Angeles County ports to levy fees on containers that remain too long after being unloaded: Officials

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The Mediterranean Shipping Company cargo ship Daniela, filled with containers, waits offshore for entry to the Port of Los Angeles on Oct. 6, 2021 in San Pedro, California. A record number of cargo ships have been stuck in limbo off the Southern California coast waiting for entry to either the ports of Los Angeles or Long Beach. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

The Mediterranean Shipping Company cargo ship Daniela, filled with containers, waits offshore for entry to the Port of Los Angeles on Oct. 6, 2021 in San Pedro, California. A record number of cargo ships have been stuck in limbo off the Southern California coast waiting for entry to either the ports of Los Angeles or Long Beach. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

The backups at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are affecting many facets of American life, such as shoppers for upcoming Halloween celebrations and those who live close to the ports.

Public officials are doing what they can to ease the backlog, including the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners, which on Friday announced a new fee on carriers who slow down the unloading process.

The Port of Los Angeles’ board approved an identical measure Friday, the Long Beach commissioners announced in a press release.

“Containers that linger too long on the docks are delaying the berthing of vessels, leading to record numbers of ships waiting off the coast, and consumers and businesses across the U.S. left waiting for crucial shipments,” the commissioners said.

The Container Excess Dwell Fee will go into effect on Monday, though it won’t be assessed until Nov. 15.

The fee will be assessed for cargo containers that have dwelt at the port for six or nine days, depending if the container is traveling by rail or truck, respectively.

Before the backlog, containers were typically left for fewer than four days at terminals, but recently, approximately 40% of containers are left for nine days or more, officials said.

“This is the nation’s leading cargo gateway, and this crisis has national impacts. We need to take action to facilitate the rapid movement of cargo through the supply chain, and this plan will help,” Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero said. “Combined with our push for expanded hours of operation, more space for containers and other measures, we are determined to eliminate the backlog.”

The amount of the fee will increase by $100 for each day until the container leaves the terminal, officials said, adding that the collected fees “will be re-invested for programs designed to enhance efficiency, accelerate cargo velocity, and address congestion impacts.”

“This is the latest step in our collaborative efforts to ensure a more efficient supply chain. We’re not doing this to collect revenue – we need those containers to be moved off our terminals promptly,” said Steven Neal, Harbor Commission President. “We will do everything within our power to help our supply chain partners overcome the current challenges.”

The ports have been working with President Joe Biden’s Supply Chain Disruption Task Force, and in the long term, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that $5 billion in loans will be available to help modernize the ports.

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