Truckers tired of taking blame for congestion crisis at California ports, by Clarissa Hawes

There’s plenty of blame to go around for California ports’ bottlenecks, but truckers think they’re getting way more than their share. From Clarissa Hawes at freightwaves.com:

California port truckers say there’s not a driver shortage — just look at the lines

As Miguel Silva surveyed his truck yard just outside the Port of Oakland last week, he pointed to shipping containers filled with corn and soybean seed bound for impoverished nations in Africa and elsewhere around the globe.

Silva said his customers’ genetically modified seed, which can’t be reused because it’s engineered in a lab, should have been loaded on a cargo ship weeks ago to arrive in time for the planting season.

However, appointment times can be scarce. The terminal operators’ push toward automation, which Silva and other trucking company owners say isn’t always reliable, requires drivers to check for appointment times day and night and on weekends to see if more time slots open up.

Miguel Silva, president of Intermodal Logistics

“I have customers calling me daily, telling me to name my price, that money is no object, but to please, just pull their containers,” Silva, president of Intermodal Logistics at the Port of Oakland, told FreightWaves. “I wish it was that simple.”

Driver shortage?

Silva and other trucking companies dispute the widely reported message that a driver shortage is largely to blame for the port congestion issues in California.

During a five-day trip to the major ports in California, FreightWaves interviewed multiple company executives who said they were actually shedding drivers because of the lack of consistent work due to port congestion bottlenecks, equipment and efficiency issues.

Port truckers told FreightWaves on Monday that the Oakland International Container Terminal (OICT) website had been down since the previous day, so trucking companies weren’t able to obtain the vessel export receiving list. OICT, the port’s largest stevedoring terminal, is owned by SSA International.

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