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Frustrated shippers and freight forwarders have written to The Loadstar in an effort to discover what has happened to their cargo, after the French container line CMA CGM continues to obfuscate over the APL Vanda accident.
One Bangladeshi freight forwarder wrote in desperation asking if we could trace his container, while a cargo owner called the carrier to ask when his box would arrive, was asked: “How long is a piece of string”.
Gary Payne, of UK-based Bahn International, a shipper with cargo on board APL Vanda, said he had telephoned several CMA CGM offices to find out about the status of his cargo, eventually being told by an employee in the Liverpool office: “If he hadn’t been contacted then it meant his container was not one of the 55 lost.”
He added: “But when I asked when my container would arrive, they said, ‘I don’t know’, then ‘8 August, maybe’.”
However, the operative then admitted they had simply plucked this date out of the air.
“I’ve found out more from The Loadstar than I have from them [CMA CGM],” said an angry Mr Payne, whose only other contact from the line has been a customer advisory on 7 July, informing customers there had been an incident and their cargo would be delayed.
In addition, shippers are in the dark about where their cargo will go.
Shippers in the UK have been told that the ship will bypass Southampton and UK cargo will be offloaded in Tangier, to be transhipped “at a later date”. Mr Payne was told his cargo would then go to Rotterdam from Morocco, and then either to another European destination or to Southampton. No timeline was given.
The Bangladeshi forwarder has no idea where his cargo is, where it will be offloaded, or when.
Global Shippers’ Forum director James Hookham said: “Reluctance to keep customers informed is unacceptable. Customers accept there are risks involved in shipping, but they should be able to inform their clients, in turn, what’s happened to the goods to sound credible.
“Keeping customers in the dark is not a recipe for keeping hold of them,” he added.
In the meantime, the APL Vanda sailed from Djibouti Container Terminal on Saturday morning,
“It went to sea, made some odd turns and tracks, came back and docked portside, this time around Sunday at 1.30pm UTC,” confirmed The Loadstar’s maritime expert.
He added: “The possible reasons for this are high winds and the port was closed, or it was a manoeuvre to turn around the vessel to access collapsed stacks not lost overboard from the other side, or both. But one and a quarter days at sea makes no sense.”
CMA CGM had not responded to requests from The Loadstar for comment at the time of going to press.