By GQ Pan
Governors of Texas and Florida are urging container ships struggling to get into California ports to reroute to their states, where they say there is capacity to handle all the cargo that needs to be unloaded and transported.
In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbot has launched an “Escape California” campaign, suggesting that companies who wish to avoid logjams should consider directing their cargo ships away from California and instead, sending them to ports on the Texas coastline.
“Are your products stuck off Long Beach? Texas ports are wide open,” a 30-second promotional video posted last week on Twitter by Abbott says, claiming that port delays are “up to 100 days” in California and that it would take less than two weeks to sail from there to a “24/7 functioning” Texas port off the Gulf of Mexico via the Panama Canal.
“Choose a state that doesn’t see inflation and America’s supply chain backlog as a good thing,” the video says. “Escape California. Everyone’s doing it. Choose Texas.”
The campaign appears to take effect as the Port of Houston, the sixth largest container port in the United States and the first in term of total waterborne tonnage, reports a container surge partly driven by retailers who see the Gulf Coast port as an alternative to those on Pacific Coast.
“For 34 years that I’ve been here, I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Port Houston Executive Director Roger Guenther told KHOU, a local CBS affiliate. He said due to the increasing demand, the length of time a container has to wait for pickup has doubled from three to four days to up to 10 days.
That being said, the Port of Houston is still in a better shape than the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex, where there are routinely more than 100 ships forced to anchor or cruise the coastline while they wait for a docking space. In an effort to ease the congestion, the governing commissions of the twin ports voted last month to require shipping companies pay an “excess dwell fee” if their container ships stay at marine terminals for too long.
Meanwhile, in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he wants the ports in his state to play a more important role in solving the nationwide supply chain issue amid rising holiday consumer demands.
“We have to make sure people can go Christmas shopping as normal. We have to make sure that all the necessities are there,” the Republican governor said last month during a visit to the Port of Jacksonville, the busiest in Florida. “And if it’s because ships are sitting off the coast somewhere else, and they can be rerouted here, and we can get all those shelves stocked, then we want to be a part of that solution.”
At the event, the Jacksonville Port Authority, or JAXPOT, announced that it will offer incentives to any company that chooses to bring its business to the port, noting that they have never had any container ship backlog since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Throughout the pandemic, JAXPORT has had no vessels waiting at anchorage to enter the Jacksonville harbor,” port officials said in a statement. “In addition, the port offers available berth and terminal capacity to easily accommodate vessels displaced by congestion at other U.S. ports.”