Truck tailbacks stretch 20 MILES at Dover: Thousands of lorries queue for ferries
By Martin Robinson and Mark Duell for MailOnline 12:19 18 Dec 2020, updated 18:43 18 Dec 2020
- A container of goods from China to Felixstowe is now at £10,000 (GBP7,500) per load – four times the usual rate
- British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) say Government must act
- They claim containers of toys and good are stuck in log-jam with PPE in particular clogging up UK ports
- Cost of a container of goods from Qingdao, China to Felixstowe, Suffolk is now at £10,000 (GBP7,500) per load
- A tidal wave of trucks now believed to be at 12,000 per day or more is crossing Channel – up 2,000 per day
- The delays at container ports means many hauliers are switching to using ferries and the Channel Tunnel
Queues at Dover reached 20 miles today with long traffic jams in Calais through the night as thousands of lorries – many full of Christmas gifts and food – tried to cross the Channel amid chaos at Britain’s container ports.
Extraordinary photographs taken from above the M20 in Kent showed how vehicles were bumper-to-bumper amid claims businesses are stockpiling in case of a No Deal Brexit at the end of the month. ADVERTISEMENT
And across the water in France, in Calais trucks lined dual carriageways for miles as they tried to get a ferry to Dover or the Channel Tunnel to Folkestone ahead of the busiest shopping week of the year.
Retailers say items they ordered in August for Christmas have still not arrived in Britain because of shipping chaos caused by Covid-19 in China and problems unloading in the UK seeing containers dumped in Zeebrugge, Belgium.
UK firms are haemorrhaging GBP1million or more because shipments have been delayed and quadrupled in price with the cost of moving a container from Qingdao, China, to the UK now at GBP7,500 per load – up from GBP2,000.Lorries queue for The Port of Dover along the A20 in Kent as the Dover TAP (Traffic Access Protocol) is implemented todayLorries queue to enter The Port of Dover today as the clock ticks down on the chance for the UK to strike a Brexit trade dealLorries wait outside The Port of Dover along the A20 in Kent amid high volumes of freight traffic this morningLorries queue at Dover today as the UK tries to strike a deal before the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31Lorries queue to enter The Port of Dover in Kent today as the clock ticks down on the chance for the UK to strike a Brexit dealVehicles are bumper-to-bumper at Dover today amid claims businesses are stockpiling in case of a No Deal BrexitLorries queue at Dover this morningLorries queue to enter The Port of Dover in Kent this morning as the deadline to strike a Brexit trade deal draws ever nearerLorries queue for The Port of Dover along the A20 in Kent today as the Dover TAP (Traffic Access Protocol) is implementedLorries wait to board their ferries as a P&O ferry and a DFDS ferry are docked at the port of Dover in Kent this afternoonFreight lorries are seen aboard a docking DFDS ferry at the Port of Dover in Kent this afternoonLorries disembark while others wait to board as a P&O ferry arrives at the Port of Dover in Kent this afternoon
Containers from one of the world’s largest cargo ships, the Ever Gifted, were seen being unloaded at Felixstowe amid chaos caused by a perfect storm of backlogs at UK container ports, pre-Brexit stockpiling and the pandemic.
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Shoppers are being badly hit in the pocket as a result, with the cost of some of the most-wanted Christmas gifts increasing by up to GBP40 each in the past week.
Three key issues causing delays at British ports
Problems at ports are being caused by a series of problems occurring at once which are not all unique to the UK. Industry insiders say there are three key issues behind the chaos:
COVID – shipping container shortage
The system for shipping goods around the world stopped working properly when economies shut down and reopened at different times as they dealt with Covid.
This led to shipping firms falling behind when it came to retrieving empty containers from European ports and taking them back to factories in Asia.
The container shortage is being exacerbated by a lack of staff across the global supply chain – including sailors, hauliers and warehouse workers – due to people falling ill or having to quarantine.
The problems caused by Covid have been compounded by a surge in demand caused by:
BREXIT – customs and stockpiling
If the UK leaves the EU with no deal, then at the end of the transition period tariffs will be applied to imported goods according to World Trade Organisation rules.
Companies are therefore stockpiling goods out of fear of having to pay tariffs, or because they are concerned that new customs procedures after Brexit will delay imports.
There is always a spike in demand for goods around Christmas, which is exacerbating problems.
The British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA), the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) are calling on the Government to intervene at Felixstowe and Southampton and ‘save the festive season’ by getting more cargo into the UK. ADVERTISEMENT
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: ‘After a tremendously challenging 2020, many firms’ cashflows are under severe pressure, and so businesses are in no position to absorb these additional shipping costs.
‘As a result, consumers will pay the final price. Christmas orders could be delayed, and retailers might be left with no option but to increase product prices. These issues must be addressed urgently.
An inquiry would provide the scrutiny needed to help get our ports flowing freely again.’
MailOnline research on the respected consumer site PriceSpy reveals that a Nintendo Switch will today cost you on average GBP279.85 in the shops or online – up GBP10 since the start of the month.
A Barbie Dreamhouse has increased in price by GBP40 in the same period to GBP280.97 while Star Wars Lego, which is in short supply this Christmas, is up GBP15 to GBP99 for a space ship set.
An electric scooter – seen by many experts as the most wanted Christmas gift – is GBP30 up to GBP139.99 on average because so many have been held up at ports in China, Europe and Britain due to a global shipping crisis.
The ongoing congestion at British ports means many Christmas toys, gifts and stocking fillers are now unlikely to make it on time with businesses hemorrhaging GBP1million or more because shipments have been delayed and quadrupled in price.
There were queues of up to ten miles at Dover and Calais earlier this week as retailers rushed to cross the Channel avoiding the snarled up container ports.
The huge Singapore-registered vessel, the Ever Gifted, unloaded cargo at Felixstowe on Wednesday after waiting in port for three days.
Rocketing shipping costs and a shortage of stock in the UK caused by Covid chaos in China and a log-jam at Felixstowe and Southampton container ports means that shoppers rushing to buy gifts in the week before Christmas Day are likely to pay more.
The industry bodies want an inquiry into the problems and are calling on Boris Johnson to clear containers of PPE clogging up the docks and bring back more staff off furlough to ease congestion. They also want other ports such as Liverpool, Hull, Portsmouth, Tilbury and London Gateway to pick up more of the slack.Freight lorries queue at the entrance to the Channel Tunnel freight terminal at Folkestone in Kent this morningLorries queue on the slip road leaving the M20 and joining a route to the Channel Tunnel freight terminal at Folkestone todayFreight lorries queue at the entrance to the Channel Tunnel freight terminal in Folkestone on the south coast this morningFreight lorries queue on the slip road leaving the M20 and joining the route to the freight terminal in Folkestone today
Retailers have said that toys, games, puzzles and dolls ordered from China in August and September have still not arrived after delays in Asia and problems unloading in Britain leading to many containers being dumped in Zeebrugge, Belgium.