COVID-19 had a huge impact on corporate industries, affecting them badly. Seaports and the maritime industry was no exception. The pandemic made seaports and the marine industry face the worst conditions. The industry came to halt completely due to the rise in infections because of COVID-19. Due to the possible contamination of the viruses through cargos, the ships were made to stand still for a quarantine period (period of isolation). The global maritime industry was affected throughout the pandemic. Major import and exports chains faced drastic downfalls. At the same time, several countries imposed a ban on the entry of vessels and containers through other ports, especially that those of China’s ( because as we all know the origin of the virus was from China). Some of the challenges faced by seaports and the marine industry are disclosed below:
Closing of Seaports:
After the immediate effects of quarantine, all seaports got closed to ensure the well being of port workers. Trade ban was imposed on the ships of various countries which also created chaos. Certain countries banned vessels from entering their ports leaving them nowhere in the middle of the seas. The whole situation caused global mayhem among the marine transport industry.
Less demand for cargos:
The countries tried their best to avoid the risk of spreading COVID-19. Certain new standard instructions were imposed by these countries which limited the transportation of cargos by sea. The continuous postponement of the delivery reduced the demand for shipments.
Disputes between owners and charters:
Due to the increasing loss of money and time between both parties, the tussle of the carters and owners was on the rise. With time, this dispute became much worse.
Discussion on pandemic clauses:
A new ruling has been added as a clause while forming new contracts between charters and ship owners. Both parties wanted to add infectious disease guidelines and directives in their new and existing contracts to be safe. Adding the clause also led to disagreements between the litigants.
The bankruptcy of small companies:
Small companies engaged in the marine and transport business had gone bankrupt due to the pandemic. The inaptitude of handling the accounting of the company led them to bankruptcy. COVID-19 had impacted a lot of small companies, even forcing them to shut down their businesses completely.
Responses to the pandemic:
When the crisis was sky high, the maritime and transport industry adapted new methods like reducing costs, implementing strict discipline, and cutting capacity to preserve profits. As a result of which despite the depressing demands, the freight level remained the same. Although the shippers had to face issues like delayed delivery dates, space limitations of transportable goods.
To cope with the pandemic situation, the whole industry tried to adjust its safety protocols, finances, operations and working practices. Governments also intervened using the port authorities, custom administrator and border authorities. They reformed the whole transport business and guidelines, keeping the trade going as well as looking after the industry workers.