Since January, two of the tri-state’s largest and most high-traffic ports have been inundated by port congestion and traffic jams on land.
With no evident signs of relief or steps towards a solution, the ports of Newark and Elizabeth are plagued by what appears to ever-growing delays. This issue has created a domino effect, causing significant damage to businesses and residents, across the tri-state area and even across the nation. Yet, millions remain utterly bewildered as officials continue to point fingers at the one another and no cause or solution has been identified.
Seldom do individuals or businesses realize how critical of a role each aspect of the import/export system plays in the function of daily life. Now, with the congestion build-up in the Ports of Newark and Elizabeth, employees, officials, and millions of Americans, alike are getting a brutal, firsthand account of the catastrophic effects that can occur when there is glitch in even one part of the system. Tractor trailers are backed up for miles, causing serious traffic jams, ships are stuck in the water, awaiting their turn to unload cargo, and the ports are getting nearer to becoming unsafe environments. Weary, confused, and agitated employees, demand answers, yet find themselves with no answers. While emotions are nearing volatile levels around the ports, businesses have long since passed the point of frustration and anger, reaching the state of frantic-frenzy, as goods are not coming in or out, thus hurting them, financially.
Though there is no single, one cause behind these delays, the relentless weather has proven to be a tremendous factor. Record amounts of snowfall have undoubtedly hindered the process and flow, but it is because of the accumulation of snow and ice, with no reprieve to thaw or melt, which has created an even greater problem than in past years. Additionally, with temperatures that have remained in freezing range for the past couple of months, various machines and equipment have malfunctioned and broken.
To further add to the already serious weather problems, there is controversy as to the roles of the International Longshoreman’s Association (ILA) and the Waterfront Commission in the problem. Much blame is being cast upon the ILA as there are many claims that there are an insufficient number of workers, while others believe that the workers are not doing their jobs. On the other hand, the ILA seeks to put the weight on the Waterfront Commission for the delay in hiring process.
Whether the root of this unprecedented and concerning situation is due to weather conditions or agency shortcomings, there appears to be no solution on the forefront. Unfortunately, the weather cannot be controlled and discrepancies will never be solved without admission or collaboration to create a solution. Although the reasons for this congestion are unclear, the one thing that is certain, however, is that a solution is urgently needed, as an alarming amount of financial damage has already been suffered by countless businesses and agencies, small and large, and before the situation becomes explosive.