How is the Maritime Industry coping with the Covid-19 pandemic?
As the coronavirus pandemic is still disrupting daily lives, livelihoods, and industries in ways that have proved to create a change the world will remember. Many countries have imposed lockdown to restrict the movements and to control the rattling spread of the pandemic.
The maritime industry, just like most industries, has also been affected no doubt. The lockdown has caused a restrain for most retailers and manufacturers as they are unable to pick up their cargo/containers because their warehouses are either too full or temporarily closed. Even though some ports remain open, there has been a reduction in workforce, which has worsened the cargo congestion at ports leading to a disruption in the supply chain, including transportation of essentials. The uncollected cargo at ports is causing congestion and taking up space, reducing the capacity for incoming cargo/containers, which is also causing disruptions in the import and exports.
Ferry operator Stena Line has recently announced its plans to temporarily suspend the employment of 600 of its 2,500 workforces in the UK and Ireland on account of the COVID-19 crisis. P&O Ferries also announced a similar move, furloughing 1,100 of its staff at end-March in order to concentrate on cargo services, carrying only “essential workers” as passengers.
Bob Sanguinetti, CEO of the UK Chamber of Shipping, has emphasised the importance of ferry companies being able to speedily access the UK job retention scheme, in a statement; he warned: “We have already seen a number of ferry companies reduce their services and send a large number of their staff home. Unless these companies get access to the government financial packages now, this is likely to be followed by further reduction of services, or indeed companies going out of business.”
The effects of the pandemic have definitely caused a lot of change over the past few months; we can only brace ourselves and hope that it does get better.