Monday, July 15, 2024
Feature/ProfileOn the Road with Mike MurchisonOpinion/ColumnTrucking

Ships sit in the harbours and I sit at a truck dealership: we just want to go home

“Stranded in Spokane” photo by RWN correspondent Mike Murchison, who is in fact stranded south of Spokane, Washington, waiting for a part that is probaly on a ship in a harbour somewhere.

  It’s ironic. My editor Rita Smith and I had a brief chat recently about the supply chain network falling apart.

  Container ports on the West Coast are backed up with cargo ships, so some have decided to turn tail and head through the Panama Canal to get to the East Coast. This means we can probably conclude a backlog will be created there as well.

  The backup, from what I can gather, has to do with COVID protocols. Container handling equipment used by Longshoremen must be disinfected with each shift change. Crews from overseas must be contained in restricted areas.

  And I could be wrong, but since a large majority of the goods we purchase in North America come from China, there may be a ‘wait and be sure its safe’ attitude since this whole virus mess started there.

  As well, if you haven’t heard, the truck drivers in the drayage sector (movement of containers) are required in many ports to show proof of vaccination. There are many who are not getting the vaccine. They see it as a serious breach of their constitutional rights and freedoms. Herein, the supply chain network begins to breakdown.

  Why am I choosing this topic to write about?

My truck has broken down. Has been down since Saturday morning. No big deal, right? Wrong!

  Parts. Where are they? Why can’t I get them? Why doesn’t the dealer or any other heavy duty shop have them, for that matter?

 That’s right. They are on a ship somewhere. The ship is anchored off of either the Pacific or Atlantic coast, awaiting its turn to nestle into a berth and get unloaded.

  My badly needed part is either somewhere on that ship, or somewhere on land in a warehouse where it was  possibly committed to another dealership, somewhere on the other side of the country.

  So who gets the part? Someone else or me? Me, me! I want it. I want to go home. Or at the very least, turn the wheels and earn money.

  And let’s address my employer. Does he have deep enough pockets to pay me for sitting here for three or four days? This is already affecting him. He as to pay the tow bill, and the diagnosing fee. If and when the part is found and installed, he will pay a massive repair bill.

In case you haven’t noticed, prices are going higher and higher. Labour rates…higher and higher. All the while, ships sit in the harbours and I sit at a truck dealership.

  And what do I and the crew of some of these ships want?

We just want to go home.