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Uber-Freight-Truck

Global transportation network company Uber has launched Uber Freight – an online booking application “which aims to empower truck drivers and small trucking companies to run and grow their business”, according to a blog on the new Uber Freight site launched last week.

Uber Freight has its own app, of course, which is available on iOS and Android. There’s a sign-up page for drivers, who will be vetted before they’re allowed to use the Uber Freight. The service “takes guesswork out of finding and booking freight, which is often the most stressful part of a driver’s day,” according to Uber, which says it’s dismantling a process that typically takes “several hours and multiple phone calls.”The blog explains that vetted users download the app, search for a load, and simply tap to book it.

“We send a rate confirmation within seconds, eliminating a common anxiety in trucking about whether or not the load is really confirmed,” said an Uber Freight spokesperson.

Another advantage of the new booking service is Uber Freight is committed to paying within a few days, fee-free, for every single load.

Drivers can browse for nearby available loads, see destination info, distance required and payment upfront and then tap to book.

The idea is to streamline something that used to take hours of back and forth negotiation via phone or other communication, putting it in a simple workflow with confirmation of job acceptance and rates paid within a few seconds.

Uber’s not the only company trying to change the trucking industry. Amazon is working on a similar service that would pair drivers with companies that need goods delivered. Manufacturers big and small are also working on bringing semi-or fully-autonomous technology to long haul trucks.

Uber Freight is currently only available in the United States.

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Forget increasing the number of Free Trade Zones at and around UK ports, real thought should be given to whether Britain could become a nationwide FTZ, a panel discussion at Multimodal heard today.

The discussion, organised by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, weighed the advantages and disadvantages of setting up more FTZs as Britain’s starts its exit journey from the European Union.

While Geoff Lippitt, business development director at PD Ports, said that there was no “desperation for the traditional type of FTZ”, he conceded that as UK ports enter a new post-EU member era, any method that could improve the competitiveness of the nation’s exports should be considered.

Tony Shally, managing director of Espace Europe, added that FTZs would give the UK a great opportunity to bring manufacturing back to the country.

Bibby International Logistics’ managing director Neil Gould went a step further, calling for the creation of a ‘UK FTZ’, to facilitate a joined up environment in which it is easier to move trade. “We need to think how we work together as an industry and how we join everything up to make the UK more competitive,” he said.

However, Barbara Buczek, director of corporate development at Port of Dover, sounded a word of caution, warning that FTZs could actually be detrimental for ro-ros, an important cargo mode for the south UK port. “It’s a great concept, but we also have to be mindful of the guys on the other side who we have to ‘play’ with,” she said, adding that she is “a bit sceptical” about how an FTZ plan could pan out. Originally published by Port strategy.com

downloadInlandLinks, the port of Rotterdam’s online intermodal platform, has developed an application to substantially reduce the transport of empty containers, the Dutch port announced on Tuesday.

Currently an estimated 25 percent of all containers shipped by road, rail or inland shipping are empty. Empty containers are returned to the owners and subsequently shipped directly back empty into the hinterland.

This results in extra costs, inefficient and unnecessary transport and also affects the environment. InlandLinks claims to have achieved a breakthrough in terms of efficiency and sustainability for the entire logistical chain.

The new online application to reduce the transport of empty containers, called ’empty depot tool,’ inland terminals where shippers and logistical service providers can pick up and deposit empty containers, and later reuse these containers for a new load. The new method allows containers to remain on the inland terminal to be reused for export cargo, instead of being returned empty.

“It is not mandatory to bring containers back immediately but the owners of the containers, the shipping companies, normally want to reuse them as soon as possible,” said Sjaak Poppe, spokesman of the Port of Rotterdam.

“Currently oweners let containers return empty if they stay in the hinterland too long. The longer containers remain unused, the larger the needed amount of containers for shipping companies will be.”

With the new tool leads to lower costs and lower CO2 emissions. A large number of shipping companies have already joined the platform, Poppe added. Source: news.xinhuanet.com

Cargo seal inspection - (Picture: www.recolor.com)

Cargo seal inspection – (Picture: http://www.recolor.com)

Finland – Recent criminal proceedings in which a driver was accused of neglecting to control the cargo security of a trailer which he had picked up from the port of Vuosaari, have been set aside by the Helsinki Appeal Court. When Customs conducted a safety inspection of the cargo, it was found that the cargo had not been secured properly. It was undisputed that the insufficient securing of the cargo could not be seen from outside, and that the driver had checked the trailer, but the trailer had been sealed with the transport company’s seal.

The court first considered whether the transport company’s commercial seal overruled the duty to carry out a cargo safety check. The expert witness testified before the Helsinki District Court that according to the Road Traffic Act, a ‘seal’ is only an official Customs seal (subject to the TIR Convention), and that the term does not include the commercial seals used by transport companies. However, the district court found that a ‘seal’ is not defined in the Road Traffic Act or its preparatory work, and the term thus includes commercial seals. It went on to determine whether checking the cargo could have caused unreasonable harm or delay. The driver stated that pursuant to the employer’s instructions, a cargo unit must never be opened alone; two people must always be present. The district court found that it was not proved that opening the trailer would not have caused unreasonable harm or delay to the transport assignment, and hence the driver had done his best. The criminal charges against the driver were rejected.

The proceedings before the Helsinki Appeal Court were limited to the first question – the definition of the seal. The appeal court found no reason to change the district court’s judgment. The appeal court judgment is final. It is quite common that a driver is assigned to pick up a transport unit which is already loaded, secured and, on many occasions, also sealed. Under these circumstances the driver has no means to carry out cargo safety checks from anywhere other than outside of the transport unit. Source: International Law Office & Hammarström Puhakka Partners, Attorneys (Finland)

 

waterwaysforward-wordpress-com_SnapseedThe European Commission (EC) has announced new measures to get more freight onto Europe’s rivers and canals.

It underlines that barges are amongst the most climate-friendly and energy efficient forms of transport but currently they only carry about 6% of European cargo each year.

The new proposals intend to realise the “unused potential” of Europe’s 37,000 km of inland waterways, enabling freight to move more easily and lead to further greening of the sector, as well as encouraging innovation and improving job opportunities.

“We already send 500 million tonnes of freight along our rivers and canals each year. That’s the equivalent of 25 million trucks. But it’s not enough. We need to help the waterway transport industry develop over the longer term into a high quality sector. We need to remove the bottlenecks holding it back, and to invest in the skills of its workforce,” said the EC’s Vice President, Transport, Siim Kallas.

The Commission is proposing to remove significant bottlenecks in the form of inadequately dimensioned locks, bridges or fairways and missing links such as the connection between the Seine and the Scheldt river systems which are hampering the sector’s full development potential.

In August last year, Lloyd’s Loading List reported that a multi-billion euro project, the Seine-Nord Europe (SNE) Canal, to build a 106km, 54-metre wide canal to link the Seine and Scheldt rivers by the end of the decade, had suffered a serious setback, with doubts cast over private investment in the project.

The French government continues to support the SNE Canal despite the conclusions of an audit into its financial feasibility which recommended that it be postponed indefinitely.

It commissioned the over-hauling project which could be presented to the European Commission in its new form in the first quarter of 2014, the aim being to secure greater EU funding than that granted under the initial plans.

The Commission is also proposing action to encourage investment in low emission technologies and to support research and innovation. Source: Lloyds.com

City Deep Container Terminal, Johannesburg

City Deep Container Terminal, Johannesburg

Online media company Engineering News reports that the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Johannesburg (JCCI) would take its objections of certain aspects of the recently tabled Customs Control Bill to Parliament and called on South African business and interested stakeholders to provide input as well.

The South African Revenue Services’ (Sars’) newly drafted Customs Control Bill, which, in conjunction with the Customs Duty Bill, would replace the current legislation governing customs operations, declared that all imported goods be cleared and released at first port of entry.

“The Customs Bill, cancelling the status of inland ports as a point of entry, will be before Parliament very soon, and only a short notice period for comment is expected,” JCCI former president Patrick Corbin said.

While all other comments and suggestions relating to the Bill were adequately dealt with, this remained the one disagreement that had not been satisfactorily resolved, he stated.

Corbin invited all parties to voice their concerns to ensure “all areas of impact and concern were captured”, adding further weight to the JCCI’s presentation. The implementation of the new Bill would directly impact the City Deep container terminal, which had been operating as an inland port for the past 35 years, alleviating pressure from the already-constrained coastal ports.

Despite customs officials assuring the chamber that the operations and facilities at City Deep/Kaserne would retain its licence as a container depot, Corbin stated that the Bill had failed to recognise the critical role City Deep played as an inland port and the impact it would have on the cost of doing business, the country’s road-to-rail ambitions, the coastal ports and ease of movement of goods nationally and to neighbouring countries.

“The authorities do not accept the fact that by moving the Customs release point back to the coast, a vessel manifest will terminate at the coastal port. There will not be the option of a multimodal Bill of Lading and seamless inland movements, as all boxes or the unpacked contents will remain at the coast until cleared and released by the line before being reconsigned,” he explained.

Citing potential challenges, Corbin said that only the containers cleared 72 hours prior to arrival would be allocated to rail transport and that those not cleared three days before arrival would be pushed onto road transport to prevent blocking and delaying rail operations.

This would also result in less rail capacity returning for export from Johannesburg, leading to increased volumes moving by road from City Deep to Durban.

He warned of the Durban port becoming heavily congested with uncleared containers, causing delays and potential penalties, while hampering berthing movements and upsetting shipping lines’ vessel schedules.

The release of the vessel manifest at the coastal port also placed increased risk on the shipping operators delivering cargo to Johannesburg following the clearance of goods at customs and required reconsignment at the country’s shores.

However, Transnet remained committed to investing R900-million for upgrading the City Deep terminal and the railway sidings, while Transnet CEO Brian Molefe had accepted the assurances from customs that “nothing would change and the boxes would still be able to move seamlessly once cleared”.

The Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport Department had allocated R122-million for the roadworks surrounding the inland port, while Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport Dr Ismail Vadi said the department’s focus this year would narrow to the expansion and development opportunities at City Deep/Kaserne.

The department was also progressing well with the development of a second inland port, Tambo Springs Inland Port and Logistics Gateway, expected to be completed by 2017.

Vadi recently commented that the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport, which was currently developing a terminal master plan for the project, would link the freight hub through road and rail transport to and from South Africa’s major freight routes and other freight hubs, including City Deep, which was about 33 km away.

The National Economic Development and Labour Council, under which the Bill had been drafted during a three-year development process, had agreed to fund an impact assessment study, led by Global Maritime Learning Solutions director Mark Goodger. The study was “close to completion” and would be presented alongside JCCI’s objections in Parliament. Source: Engineering News

services_import_SnapseedActually, this is a view from the Ukraine. In modern practice, the organisation of the transport process often necessitates direct international multimodal transportation, in which case the freight forwarder carries out the contract of carriage as a multimodal transport operator, even if it does not directly own any vehicles. However, a trend has arisen in which the functions of the carrier and forwarder are combined. Under this model, traditional carriers diversify their activities by creating a forwarding unit within their companies, or forwarding agents acquire vehicles or create dependent carriers. Furthermore, forwarders often hire subcontractors to undertake the shipment; as a result, cases of loss or shortage of goods and claims against forwarding agents can become quite complicated. 

General provisions

Ukrainian legislation does not provide detailed rules governing freight-forwarding activities. The Law on Freight-Forwarding Activities, the Civil Code and the Economic Code stipulate only the general regulations of freight forwarding.

In accordance with Clause 1 of the Law on Freight Forwarding Activities, the contract of freight forwarding is a contract in which the freight forwarder agrees, at the client’s behest, to perform or arrange for the performance of certain contract work related to the transportation of goods. The forwarding agent is entitled to engage other parties for the execution of certain work under the contract (eg, transportation, storage, loading and unloading).

The law includes only general provisions under which the freight forwarder may be held liable to the customer (unless provided otherwise in the contract) for:

  • the number of packages;
  • the weight of the packages (if the weighing was conducted in the presence of the carrier and confirmed with its signature); and
  • packaging requirements under the related shipping documents (signed by a representative of the carrier).

Issues regarding the forwarder’s liability are also governed by the general provisions of the Civil Code, which provides for liability for breach of obligations under the contract. Thus, Article 623 of the code provides that a debtor in breach of its obligations must compensate the creditor for losses caused.

Where the freight forwarder engages third parties to fulfil its obligations under the contract of freight forwarding, the forwarding agent will be held fully responsible for the actions and omissions of the third parties.

Ukrainian law lacks specific rules that directly limit the freight forwarder’s liability to the client. Detailed rules governing the forwarding agent’s liability to the customer, as well as grounds and limitations of such liability, are fixed by the parties in the contract of freight forwarding.

At the same time, Ukrainian legislation contains general rules that allow for the release of the freight forwarder from liability. In accordance with Clause 614 of the Civil Code, a party that has violated its obligations will be held responsible only if found guilty (intently or negligently), unless otherwise agreed in the contract. Disputes in connection with claims against freight forwarders for loss of cargo in transit are common in Ukraine, so there is ample case law in the area. However, since Ukrainian legislation provides only general provisions on the freight forwarder’s liability, court practice for such disputes is often ambiguous and contradictory. In particular, there have been separate cases with similar circumstances in which the court variously found the freight forwarder both liable and not liable for cargo loss in transit. Continue Reading…

Recent years have brought an increased awareness of the importance of trade costs in hindering trade, particularly in the developing world where these costs are highest, says a report in the latest edition of Port Technology. The most salient type of trade costs have often been tariff duties and costs associated with the physical transportation of goods. As a result, several countries embarked on extensive programmes of tariff liberalisation and a significant portion of aid effort was channelled to investments in hard transport infrastructure, such as rebuilding railways and ports (the World Bank alone devotes more than 20 percent of its budget to transport infrastructure projects worldwide).

More recently, new light has been cast on the importance of a different type of trade cost: the cost imposed by the soft infrastructure of transport, defined as the bureaucratic infrastructure handling the movement of goods across borders. While there are many possible sources of inefficiencies stemming from the soft infrastructure of transport, recent research is beginning to document the role played by corruption in transport bureaucracies in driving trade costs. This article provides an overview of this research.

Research into corruption

Corruption can take many forms and emerge in many different phases of the process of clearing goods across borders. Sequeira and Djankov (2011) documented in great detail the ways in which port corruption emerges in Durban and Maputo in Southern Africa – this report is featured in my next post. This research was based on a unique dataset of directly observed bribe payments to each port bureaucracy for a random sample of 1,300 shipments.

The study began by defining two broad categories of port officials that differed in their administrative authority and in their discretion to stop cargo and generate opportunities for bribe extraction: customs officials and port operators. In principle, customs officials hold greater discretionary power to extract bribes than regular port operators, given their broader bureaucratic mandate and the fact that they can access full information on each shipment, and each shipper, at all times. Customs officials possess discretionary power to singlehandedly decide which cargo to stop and whether to reassess the classification of goods for tariff purposes, validate reported prices of goods, or request additional documentation from the shipper.

Regular port operators, on the other hand, have a narrower mandate to move or protect cargo on the docks, and at times even lack access to the cargo’s documentation specifying the value of the cargo and the client firm. This category of officials includes those receiving bribes to adjust reefer temperatures for refrigerated cargo stationed at the port; port gate officials who determine the acceptance of late cargo arrivals; stevedores who auction off forklifts and equipment on the docks; document clerks who stamp import, export and transit documentation for submission to customs; port security who oversee high value cargo vulnerable to theft; shipping planners who auction off priority slots in shipping vessels, and scanner agents who move cargo through non- intrusive scanning technology.

The organisational structure of each port created different opportunities for each type of port official to extract bribes: the high extractive types -customs agents- or the low extractive types -port operators. These opportunities were determined by the extent of face to face interactions between customs officials and clearing agents, the type of management overseeing port operations, and the time horizons of each type of official.

Durban and Maputo

In Durban, direct interaction between clearing agents and customs’ agents was kept to a minimum since all clearance documentation was processed online. In contrast, all clearance documentation was submitted in person by the clearing agent in the Port of Maputo. The close interaction between clearing agents and customs officials in Maputo created more opportunities for corrupt behaviour to emerge in customs relative to Durban.

In Maputo, port operators were privately managed but in Durban, most terminals (for containerised cargo) were under public control, with very lax monitoring and punishment strategies for those engaging in corrupt behaviour. Private management in Maputo was associated with fewer opportunities for bribe payments due to better monitoring and stricter punishment for misconduct. As a result, the organisational features of each bureaucracy determined that the high extractive types in customs had more opportunities to extract bribes in Maputo, while the low extractive types in port operations had more opportunities to extract bribes in Durban. While corruption levels were high in both ports, bribes were higher and more frequent in Maputo relative to Durban.

Finally, port officials with opportunities to extract bribes at each port differed in their time horizons. Customs in Maputo adopted a policy of frequently rotating agents across different terminals and ports, and since bribes varied significantly by the type of terminal at the port, customs agents were aware of the risk of being assigned to terminals with lower levels of extractive potential. On the other hand, port operators in Durban had extended time horizons given the stable support received from dock workers’ unions. Customs officials were therefore the high extractive types with the shortest time horizons, the broadest bureaucratic mandates and more opportunities to interact face to face with clearing agents. As a result, they extracted higher and more frequent bribes, relative to port operators in Durban (the low extractive types) who had longer time horizons and narrower bureaucratic mandates. Source: Port Technology.

The 8th Annual State of Logistics Survey, a joint project by Imperial Logistics, the University and Stellenbosch and the CSIR reveals good news for South Africa. Logistics costs – as a percentage of GDP – have dropped to the lowest level ever at 12.7%. The in-depth report, which is available online at http://www.csir.co.za/sol/, provides some fascinating insights from some of the industry’s logistics thought leaders.

Transport costs are singled out as the most significant factor impacting the country’s logistics costs, comprising 53.2% of the logistics bill. “The marked impact of the 11% fuel price increase between 2009 and 2010 is no surprise considering the fuel price is the primary transport cost driver,” says Zane Simpson of the University of Stellenbosch. “Had the fuel price remained as it was in 2009, total transport costs in 2010 would have been R5.8billion less, consequently putting logistics costs as a percentage of GDP at an even more favourable 12.5%.” Transport costs as a percentage of total logistics costs would then have been 52% instead of 53%.

Globally, transport costs as a percentage of logistics costs are less than 40% which makes South Africa’s percentage relatively high. “For logistics to become a competitive weapon for South Africa, change is required,” said Cobus Rossouw, chief integration officer of Imperial Logistics. “South Africa is a leader in complex, dynamic logistics and has achieved success despite geographical impediments, severe skills shortages and lack of economies of scale “South Africans need to recognise that we are and can be counted among the best in logistics. And while we will always have much to learn from others, we need to recognise that we also have a lot to offer.” Source: CargoInfo.co.za

The following piece suggests that the realisation of AEO obligations on shippers is real and will be augmented by support systems that may marginalise the highly competitive freight forwarding industry.  While there is a suggestion of cost savings due to non-reliance of shippers on traditional forwarding agents, I believe this is a short-sited view as the ‘real challenge’ lies in whether or not shippers are up to the task in meeting these obligations given their unfamiliarity with customs and transport requirements. I see many shippers having to recruit experienced customs and forwarding experts to maximise their compliance given the burgeoning obligations materializing in international shipping!

In October 2011, Aircargoshop an online booking portal provided shippers the possibility to book their own airfreight without involvement of the traditional shipping agent via the online portal Aircargoshop. This is a development that might have important consequences for the closed airfreight industry. As a consequence the online booking portal offers a lower-priced, more efficient and more transparent process for aircargo booking.

Founder Paul Parramore of Rhenus Logistics suggests that this system will bring down the cost of airfreight by as much as 50%. The Dutch Shipping Council EVO, gave the system the thumbs up and said that it will revolutionise the manner in which the freight business is currently being conducted.

Joost van Doesburg, a consultant with EVO said that in the long run restructuring of the industry is necessary in order to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Many of the forwarders will lose out, but the system is geared towards cost effectiveness and being competitive. He also added that if the forwarder is to add value to the supply chain, then he has to comply to adapting to the system rather than working against it.

On the home front, a recent article featured on the website Freight into Africa reports that the South African Cross Border Transporters Association (SACBTA) will be introducing a similar system which is currently under development for the cross border road freight industry. It will be called “ROAFEonline” or shortened form of Road Freight online which will allow the customer to book directly his freight with accredited SACBTA members hence cutting out the middleman and brokers.

All payments can and will be done online and this system will integrate with SARS EDI (Would like to hear more on this!). The consignor will only have to ensure that his goods are loaded onto the truck, the rest will be done by the system. The cost per transaction to the customer will be a paltry R100.00 in relation to a few thousand Rands normally swallowed up by the middlemen.

Based on our estimations a regular consignor can save up to R3-5 million Rands per annum which hopefully will be passed onto the consumer. With the looming integration of the SADC countries towards one stop clearing, it makes sense to further integrate the system. So whether you are in Dar es Salaam or Lubumbashi, you can now book your freight from Cape Town without having to go through a string of brokers. You also have the assurance that your cargo will be loaded by an accredited SACBTA transporter who complies to the standards set out by SACBTA. It will facilitate consolidations as any accredited transporter will at any given time be able to see what cargo is available. If Transporter A has only 20 tons, he can check which other transporter on the system has another 8 tons to Dar es Salaam for example. The transporters can then consolidate a load on the system which will happen in a shorter period of time than say for instance waiting a month to fill a tri axle.

This system will have many other functionalities that have been incorporated like online tracking, bar coding, which will give the consignor and consignee piece of mind knowing at any given time where their cargo is. It will also be accessible to border agents and customs officials who will be in a position to extract vital information on any consignment long before it actually gets to a border.

The system will go into testing around March of this year and if all goes well should be ready for implementation by the latter part of 2012 or early 2013. We hope that this will go a long way towards restructuring the industry for the better. It has long been the desire of SACBTA to allow industry players to come on board to create a better industry. However, there has been very little interest shown in transforming the industry and we feel this system will by virtue of its nature, transform the industry whether industry players are willing participants or not. Source: Freight into Africa and various own sources.