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Backed-up ports mean a continuation of supply chain shortages

Like many businesses across the country, Augusta-area businesses are frustrated with the problems in the supply chain. Unfortunately, it looks as that will continue into the near future as bottlenecks continue to form in many ports, including those in Charleston, S.C., and Savannah, two ports that service Augusta.

Last week, the Port of Charleston, the nation’s ninth-busiest port, said that it had a record 30 ships anchored, waiting to enter and be offloaded. The average wait time for each ship is now more than a week.

Frequently area stores, like this Evans Walmart Market, find their shelves bare because of supply chain problems. (Photo by Gary Kauffman)

The Port of Savannah, meanwhile, listed just one ship at anchor, but reported a record volume of traffic and goods offloaded last year. In 2021 Savannah, the fourth-busiest port in the United States, moved 5.6 million containers, a 20 percent increase over 2020. That amount of increase normally takes three to four years to happen.

At least some of the increased traffic comes from ships bypassing clogged ports on the West Coast by sailing through the Panama Canal to ports along the East Coast.

Earlier this week, the nation’s two busiest ports, Los Angeles and Long Beach in California, reported a backlog of 76 ships.

A shortage of truck drivers and some arcane container storage rules have contributed to a huge volume of containers at the ports, making it difficult for a steady flow of offloading the ships.

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