There are growing calls for urgent action over the rising levels of abandoned cargo in the aftermath of COVID.
With supply chain congestion and widespread delays in the international container trades set to continue, marine insurers have warned the growing challenges of abandoned cargo will remain and highly likely to increase.
The TT Club said the potential catastrophic impact arising from the deterioration of abandoned cargo cannot be disregarded as a remote risk. However, the considerable costs accruing from container demurrage, detention, storage and disposal regularly result from cargo that, for a variety of reasons, is no longer required by the original receiver or consignee, and is simply abandoned at a port terminal or cargo facility.
The abandonment of cargo is threating to increase safety risks and regulatory infraction, as well as place significant demands on management and operational resources to resolve individual cases.
“Levels of cargo abandonment have always been problematic to forwarders, NVOCs, logistics operators and, of course container terminals,” explained Peregrine Storrs-Fox, TT’s Risk Management Director. “The surge in container demand over recent months has however compounded container ship capacity issues, port congestion and consequent severe transit delays. These factors will do little to alleviate the practice of cargo interests, in circumstances of loss of market for goods or bankruptcy, simply relinquishing ownership of consignments.”
The TT Club warned those left with the responsibility of removing and/or disposing of the goods and returning the container to the appropriate carrier, are in need of guidance. As such the insurer bas issued a set of guidance that identifies ‘red flags’ that forwarders, logistics operators and carriers should consider.
“Certain commodities such as waste, scrap, materials for recycling and personal effects, previously unknown shippers, particularly individuals rather than companies are deemed red flags,” added the TT Club. “Furthermore, once the cargo is defined as abandoned, the publication outlines the role of enforcement agencies and the responsibilities of others involved in the supply chain. “
“Above all the value of our guidance lies in mitigating the risks associated with abandonment and recommended actions outlined in methodical steps and a ten-point checklist,” concluded Storrs-Fox. “There needs to be a greater understanding of why cargo is abandoned and how it is handled in order to restrict the growth of a serious trend leading to increased safety and cost ramifications.”