MSC London in Gioia Tauro (3)

MSC has announced four additional container wayport storage hubs as part of its Covid-19 suspension of transit (SOT) offering to shippers looking to avoid congestion and high storage costs at destination ports on non-essential goods.

The SOT product is targeted at shippers that have been unable to cancel or halt orders from Asia and will have containers en route in the coming weeks for markets in lockdown.

Freeport (Bahamas), Gioia Tauro (Italy), Klaipeda (Lithuania) and Las Palmas (Spain) are the latest transhipment hub storage facilities MSC will offer its customers at time of booking.

The original six “buffer ports” were: Bremerhaven (Germany), Busan (South Korea), King Abdullah (Saudi Arabia), Lome (Togo), Rodam PSA International Terminal (Panama) and Tekirdag Asyaport (Turkey).

The carrier claimed that as “advance storage” ports, the SOT hubs will assist shippers to “begin moving goods early in anticipation of a resumption in demand, in an efficient and cost-effective way” once the coronavirus crisis is over.

“The SOT programme is proving to be particularly useful for beneficial cargo owners and cargo consolidators, all of which are faced with congestion at ports of destination and the related possibility of high warehousing storage costs,” said MSC.

The carrier said it would suspend the transit of containers at the interim hubs “upon your request”, but in practical terms, and to avoid expensive onboard re-stows, the request will need to be made at the time of the booking.

It said that the SOT programme offered shippers “flexibility” and allowed them to “adapt your delivery date to your customers’ needs”.

Customers are requested to contact their local MSC offices for more details and prices.

At the time of writing, The Loadstar has been unable to ascertain a ballpark cost for the SOT programme, but one internal source familiar with the scheme said it was “negotiable, depending on who you are”.

A legal source told The Loadstar this morning that the concept of a “suspension of transit” relating to the carrier’s bill of lading could “prove to be a headache for insurers” if cargo suffered damage at the storage facility.

And a UK NVOCC told The Loadstar that, while he applauded MSC’s initiative, he would “worry a little about the relay” of the boxes when its ships were full again from Asia.

It does not appear that MSC’s 2M partner, Maersk, will be offering its customers a similar storage product, although the operation of its ships will be impacted by the additional working at the respective hubs.

Meanwhile, Ocean Alliance carrier CMA CGM today unveiled a similar in-transit storage product which it called Delay in Transit (DIT) and which would facilitate the “slowing of non-urgent shipments”.

It said the new product would allow shippers to “temporarily store their containers in a dedicated hub until the recipient is ready for them to arrive at the final destination shown on the final bill of lading.”

CMA CGM’s DIT product applies to the transhipment hubs of Algeciras, Malta, Piraeus, Tanger Med, Busan and Kingston.

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