Boxes pile up at Santos as dredging woes deepen

Pilots in Brazil’s leading port of Santos reduced the official maximum draft from 13.2 meters (43.3 feet) to 12.3 meters, causing draft restrictions that have led to hundreds of containers being rolled.

The average losses per container ship are $1.6 million based on an average freight rate of $2,300 per container, according to José Roque, executive director of the Shipagents Association for Santos and the State of Sao Paulo (Sindamar).

“Until the dredging is concluded, the shipowners, shipping agents, port terminals, and exporters and importers will face enormous difficulties and inconveniences in their logistical operations,” said Roque. “This will have an adverse commercial impact on the international buyers of Brazilian goods and may result in penalties or fines for contracts not fulfilled, and could lead to our competitors gaining ground.

“This restriction is causing cargo to be rolled over to meet the shipping limit imposed for the safety of shipping, and is racking up storage costs for shippers, plus, it is causing storage problems for terminals.”

Port users have blamed the Santos port authority Codesp and its decision to allow a complicated and controversial dredging procedure for the draft limits, but Codesp said it does not believe the restrictions are warranted because the building up of sedimentation was only in two or three specific areas that ships could easily avoid. Stakeholders have also said that Codesp was slow to respond to the development.

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