There is an unprecedented line of 57 ships off Israel's ports waiting for a berth in either Ashdod or Haifa ports so that they can unload their goods. There are 20 ships waiting to anchor at Ashdod Port and an additional 37 ships waiting to anchor at the various ports in Haifa Bay.
Some of the ships may have to wait more than a week until they can enter an Israeli port. The Israel Chamber of Shipping has called on the ports to hire hundreds of temporary workers to help unload the ships.
A source at the Israel Ports Authority told "Globes," that the situation is, "no less exceptional than the blocking of the Suez Canal by a 400-meter long ship."
Israel Chamber of Shipping president Dr. Yoram Sebba urges the ports to hire more workers to handle the backlog of ships but says that the port's workers committees and the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) have vetoed the idea unless workers are hired within the framework of the collective agreement. Sebba told "Globes," "Now of all times when there are so many young unemployed people, it would be possible to hire workers through outsourcing and reduce the damage somewhat."
The ports say they are working around the clock in order to handle the waiting ships, despite the holidays. Government sources in the ports sector told "Globes" that there is no connection between the situation in Israel's ports and the jam in the Suez Canal caused by the grounding of the Ever Given.
Those sources say that the situation has been caused a huge wave of orders for raw materials and goods in recent weeks following a surge in activity due to the economic recovery from the exit from the Covid-19 crisis. There is also believed to be a speculative element in the situation, with importers stocking up on raw materials in the belief that prices will rise when the global economy finally opens up.
49 of the 57 ships waiting outside of Israel's ports are carrying general commodities such as cement, iron and wood, while the others are container ships.
The sources said, "The Israeli companies who have ordered the goods are under no pressure to receive their consignments and the people being harmed are mainly the shipping companies.
In fact the blockage and delays in the Suez Canal have helped the situation, according to sources at the ports, because there are container ships en route to Israel's Mediterranean ports, which have been delayed. "Otherwise the congestion offshore from Israel would have been even worse."
Another problem facing Israel's ports is the growing number of empty containers. Because Israel's imports far outstrip exports, many empty containers are left in the ports, which do not have the room to store them in the ports, so they are required to finance expensive warehousing off-site.
Ashdod Port said, "The port company is working through all the means at its disposal to provide a solution for the exceptional demand and to provide the best service to all its customers, both on regular days and throughout the Passover holiday.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 29, 2021
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