Port of Miami shippers feeling squeezed by stepped-up inspections
By Shannon Pettypiece
Department of Homeland Security inspections are triggering shipping-fee increases and delays at Port of Miami and leading transshipping lines to consider working abroad.
"Ocean-cargo companies are experiencing increased, intensive searches, which means delays in clearing customs, sometimes damaged goods and sometimes rejected goods," said Florida International University professor David Wernick. "This has meant some are considering switching from Port of Miami to another port."
Jorge Rovirosa, Port of Miami Terminal Operating Co. general manager, said before 9/11 most cargo pre-cleared and just 75 containers a month were intensively searched. Now, he said, intensive searches of 1,200 containers monthly delay ships two to three days.
"There are more containers at the terminal we can't turn around as quickly," he said, "which puts more restraints on our ability to work smoothly... and requires a lot of overtime."
As a result, he said, he raised his fee for intensive cargo checks from $75 to $150, his first hike in eight years.
Consolidators who transfer arriving cargo to Latin America-bound ships are considering receiving the goods in the Caribbean or Panama to avoid new fees and delays, Mr. Wernick said. "It's too much of a hassle and too expensive to send it to Miami."
At terminal company Seaboard Marine, Bruce Brecheisen said inspectors have held up shipments for hours, straining employees, truckers and companies awaiting the cargo.
"This is not just happening in Miami," Mr. Rovirosa said. "What sets Miami apart is that our access is terrible. It is third-world. If we don't get our access problems resolved, shipping lines are going to look to other ports."