World leaders ‘failed to listen’; Transportation heads warn of supply chains ‘collapse’

by WorldTribune Staff, October 5, 2021

World leaders were so consumed with lockdowns and travel bans amid the Covid pandemic that they failed to heed warnings that global supply chains were in jeopardy of collapsing, officials in the maritime, road, and aviation shipping industries said.

The world road transport organization (IRU), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), in a joint open letter on Sept. 29, said: “We are witnessing unprecedented disruptions and global delays and shortages on essential goods including electronics, food, fuel and medical supplies. Consumer demand is rising and the delays look set to worsen ahead of Christmas and continue into 2022.”

Container ships are stacked up outside of California’s Long Beach port waiting to unload.

The transportation industry leaders asked the UN, the World Health Organization and anyone else who cared to listen that it was vital for them to intervene to prevent a “global transport systems collapse.”

“Since the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the maritime, road and aviation industries have called loudly and clearly on governments to ensure the free movement of transport workers and to end travel bans and other restrictions that have had an enormously detrimental impact on their wellbeing and safety,” the joint letter said. “Transport workers keep the world running and are vital for the free movement of products, including vaccines and PPE, but have been continually failed by governments and taken for granted by their officials.”

The letter referred to ships stuck at sea waiting to be unloaded.

In the U.S., reports noted that 70 container ships were anchored near the Port of Long Beach in California. Some have been anchored for up to 45 days waiting to unload.

The same scene was reported in New York.

The transportation industries “have all continued to keep global trade flowing throughout the pandemic, but it has taken a human toll,” the joint letter said. “At the peak of the crew change crisis 400,000 seafarers were unable to leave their ships, with some seafarers working for as long as 18 months over their initial contracts. Flights have been restricted and aviation workers have faced the inconsistency of border, travel, restrictions, and vaccine restrictions/requirements. Additional and systemic stopping at road borders has meant truck drivers have been forced to wait, sometimes weeks, before being able to complete their journeys and return home.”

The joint letter continued: “It is of great concern that we are also seeing shortages of workers and expect more to leave our industries as a result of the poor treatment they have faced during the pandemic, putting the supply chain under greater threat.”

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