The world’s worst traffic jam isn’t on any road — it’s at one of the most important shipping routes where ships are paying upto 3x fare just to get across

The Panama Canal is an important shipping route.

Luis Acosta/AFP

Over 200 ships are currently stuck in a massive traffic jam in the Panama Canal.
The situation is so bad that some ship operators are paying multiple times the toll just to pass.
The US is the largest user of the Panama Canal, so the bottleneck could hit holiday shipping.

The world’s worst traffic jam is at the Panama Canal, where hundreds of massive ships are stuck due to a serious drought that reduced water levels.

The traffic jam is so bad that ships have paid multiple times the toll to pass through. Vessels that are stuck are mostly bulk cargo ships or gas carriers, according to the “Today” show

“We had two ships that couldn’t book, and it was quite expensive,” Lars Oestergaard Nielsen, Maersk’s head of customer delivery in the Americas, told the Wall Street Journal on Friday. “We went to an auction and paid $900,000 on top of $400,000 normal toll fee for each ship to cross.”  That’s over three times the typical toll. 

Some ship operators may be willing to pay that much because ships have been waiting about four days on average compared to just over a day in June, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing data from Clarksons Research Services, a maritime consultancy.

Over 200 ships are currently stuck in a major traffic jam on either side of the Panama Canal, according to data from project44, a supply chain platform, reviewed by Insider’s Rebecca Cohen. Some ships have been trapped for more than three weeks.

On Tuesday, Reuters posted a photo on X, formerly Twitter, that appears to show dozens of ships lined up and waiting.


—Reuters (@Reuters) August 22, 2023


The bottleneck in the Panama Canal could affect upcoming Christmas stock levels and supply chains because 40% of US container traffic passes through the waterway, according to a Tuesday report from Container xChange, a logistics platform.

The canal is especially important for US shippers on their way to the Gulf and East Coast ports.

The US is also the largest user of the Panama Canal, accounting for 70% of the waterway’s traffic, per Container xChange.

The Panama Canal Authority and Maersk did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider sent outside regular business hours.

Read the original article on Business Insider


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