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. Increased risks of safety and regulatory infraction are inevitably consequent, as well as significant demand 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,” comments 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.”
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 and TT’s StopLoss publication Abandonment of cargo: Avoiding the pitfalls is designed to deliver just that. It 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. Furthermore, once the cargo is defined as abandoned, the StopLoss 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,” concludes 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.”