Halifax clears container pile-up from Covid and Montreal dock strike

The port of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, has been working to clear a backlog of containers that have been accumulating at its terminals because of a rebound in traffic after the easing of Covid lockdowns and a knock-on effect from cargo diversions from a dock strike in Montreal.

Port authorities said they were hopeful that they would clear the backlog by the end of this week.

In late July Montreal longshoremen staged a four-day strike in Montreal. In August the port was crippled by a two-week strike by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) against their employer. the Maritime Employers Association (MEA) over a lack of a contract for the past 18-months. Ocean carriers had begun diverting ships from Montreal to Halifax before the strike began.

When work resumed at the terminals in Montreal during the third week of August, officials predicted it would take between two and four weeks to catch up. Six weeks later, dealing with the increased flow of containers experienced in recent weeks, the Port of Halifax is still working to clear the backlog. Adding to the challenge has been the increased traffic into the Port of Halifax.

In September Halifax experienced the first calls of two of the largest container ships to ever arrive in Canada, the 149,314 gt, 15,072 teu, Malta-flagged CMA CGM Brazil (IMO 9860245) and sister ship CMA CGM Panama (IMO 9839923).

The Port of Halifax said that vessels due from carriers MSC and Hapag-Lloyd would likely clear away most of the delayed containers and get it to their destinations.

Portugal-flagged 26,206 gt container ship MSC Weser called at Halifax on October 4 and the 2,524-teu vessel was able to reduce the backlog significantly, taking containers to Montreal.

CN Rail has also been working to assist, increasing the numbers of containers moving by rail from the port.