Charleston Port: system implementation slowing trucks

| 1/21/2011

A new check-in process caused massive truck lines at the Port of Charleston this week. A port spokesman, however, said the system will improve.

News organizations in the area posted pictures of truck lines clogging highways this week after the port?s new check-in system began enforcement Jan. 18.

Byron Miller, spokesman for the South Carolina Ports Authority, acknowledged the port?s responsibility for delays. The port is using an existing check-in system, he said, though different employees are now handling the work.

?We have the same computer system. The only thing different is who is doing the work,? Miller told Land Line Magazine on Thursday. ?We?ve come to expect and demand a certain level of service here ? and when it goes two or three deep, to eight, to 10 or 15 deep ? then people get impatient. And we don?t accept it.?

An OOIDA member who works at the port daily said his number of weekly turns is down 40 percent.

?The port users aren?t getting their freight delivered ? and they?re not getting their on-time percentage,? said the OOIDA member, who asked that Land Line Magazine not use his name.

The OOIDA member said the port should have better trained the new employees.

?The port is not paying for this on-the-job training; we?re paying for it,? he said. ?It doesn?t cost them a damn thing. But we have no recourse. We can?t sue them for lost wages.?

Miller told Land Line, however, that he believes the port had improved as the week went on.

?Yesterday we did follow one truck from the last part of the line,? Miller said on Thursday. ?It took about 45 minutes to get to the gate. Once he got to the gate, it was a total of one hour.?

The OOIDA member, however, said he showed up Tuesday at 8:35 a.m., and couldn?t check out until after 2 p.m., with ?a turn time of 51 minutes.?

?There?s a lot of very unhappy truckers connected to this,? he said. ?We?ve got our bills to pay. With diesel at $3.41 a gallon, we lose a day, we might as well not work the rest of the week because we can?t afford to buy the fuel to drive there.?

Miller said he couldn?t confirm delays exceeding four hours because he wasn?t in the truck at the time.

?I?m not aware of any four-hour delays at the Port of Charleston today,? Miller said Thursday. ?Someone said yesterday it took them 8 hours. Well, that?s not even legal. But it?s not acceptable regardless ? whether it?s 45 minutes or two and a half hours, neither are acceptable. And that?s what we?ve got to fix.?

For more on the Port of Charleston?s new system, click here.