Canada’s ports face new risks

The flag of Canada pinned on the map. Horizontal orientation. Macro photography.

While it is challenging to predict the full effects of COVID-19, members of the University of Manitoba, Canada, have highlights a number of new risk factors Canadian Ports in particular could face in the future.

In an article shared exclusively with PTI, Dr. Roozbeh Panahi, and Professor Adolf K.Y. Ng, University of Manitoba, highlight that during the period in which ports have been affected by COVID-19 there are a number of factors for consideration that could introduce new risk.

Loss prevention and reduction

The authors note that risk control measures, if designed/practiced inappropriately, could have a negative domino effect. For instance, stopping access to shore affects quality of life and well-being of crews which might consequently decrease shipping performance and increase accidents by affecting their situational awareness.

For the case of shore leave access, Transport Canada responded to the malpractice of some ports in March 2020 by reemphasizing the importance of shore leave access.

However, the authors note, from a wider perspective, risk managers at ports must consider the interactions between factors (and avoid silo approach) when devising/implementing new measures, especially when it comes to unprecedented risks.

Logistics partners and the supply chain

Ports should monitor the market closely and strictly collaborate with logistics partners to prepare for timely actions when the tide turns.

Piled up empty containers must be relocated, and perishable commodity and agricultural products must be delivered as quickly as possible, the authors note.

“In the meantime, communication with cruise liners and their partners to adjust new schedules is pivotal. Besides, ports must get prepared for throughput surge when the story is over. This will put extra pressure on facilities, examine the new levels of readiness and call for new risks,” the article says.

The economy

Everyone is aware that the global economy, heading for recession, will have a huge effect on all industries, including the maritime one.

The ripple effects on the global economy and ports are likely to be felt for some time to come even if the virus is eliminated entirely in the foreseeable future.

We appear to be heading a longer U-shaped recovery rather than a shorter V-shaped one, according to the authors.

This becomes more challenging, considering development plans in Vancouver, Prince Rupert, Montreal and Halifax ports, it is noted, if COVID-19 disturbance lasts for a long time and exacerbated by recession.

“Besides, ports as the ‘middlemen of trade’ affect a broad range of stakeholders and any such disruptions quickly affect them at different scales, supposedly starting by those with low power and high interest, among which cargo handling, warehousing, trucking, rail and intermodal shipping, and other supporting businesses  are most vulnerable ones,” the article notes.

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