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Yantian disruption impacting terminals across the Pearl River Delta

The severe congestion that has been impacting Yantian for over two weeks is now worse than March’s Suez Canal blockage and has spread to Shekou and Nansha, with new testing rules for truck drivers creating even more disruption.

After the COVID-19 outbreak originally hit Yantian on the 27th May, its west terminal was shut and productivity at the east terminal fell to 30%, as workforces were quarantined, or work in smaller teams.

Infections have spread to other terminals in Shenzhen port, and the Guangzhou port of Nansha, with quarantine measures reducing productivity and escalating delays for exports, imports, and returning empties.

Nansha now requires a negative test from drivers within 48 hours of gaining entry, while Yantian won’t allow a driver who has been to Nansha to come into their terminal, which means the number of available drivers is becoming extremely limited.

There’s a lot of traffic coming out of Shekou and Chiwan, and DaChan Bay has announced restricted access to Shenzhen-registered vehicles, which must have a Covid-19 test for the drive, that also needs up to 72 hours for results, before port access.

With so many terminals in the Pearl River Delta, carriers are quick to divert, but as they omit the port, local haulage, feeder and barge operations are completely disrupted.

Terminals in Hong Kong are currently operating normally, but their problem is yard density and with much of Hong Kong’s transhipment cargo already originating in the delta region, if barges in Yantian and Nansha are delayed for three or four days, a lot of them will come to Hong Kong instead, inevitably creating massive congestion in Hong Kong as well.

Waiting times for vessels to berth at Yantian have increased from half a day, to more than 16 days, leading carriers to cut Yantian from vessel schedules, with almost 50 ships either waiting to berth or inbound as of yesterday.

Maersk’s list of impacted vessels jumping from 40 to 64 in two days, with 153 vessels impacted and 132 complete omissions in the region, which compares with only 87 ships directly affected by the six-day Suez Canal blockage.

Meanwhile, Yantian is beginning to recover, with the west terminal expecting to reopen and expects to ramp up operations to 60% over the next two weeks.

Summary of the current Pearl River Delta situation:


  • Operating with limited capacity
  • Yard density remains elevated with disinfection and quarantine measures
  • Congestion and vessel delays upwards of 14 days are expected
  • Trucking service into YICT must be reserved in advance
  • Covid test with green health codes required for drivers to enter the terminal
  • Only accept laden export containers with a vessel ETA of three days
  • Terminal workforce reduced by 70% following quarantine restrictions and testing



  • Diverted vessels and containers creating congestion
  • New restrictions reducing access for transport
  • Traffic congestion building
  • Up to several days wait for container pick-up and laden container gate-in
  • Negative Covid tests required for truck drivers to enter the terminal



  • Several carriers announced that vessels would omit the terminal
  • 6th of June till 13th of June, export laden container gate-in will be accepted only 3 days prior to vessel ETA


Hong Kong

  • The terminal operates as usual at present
  • Following the congestion at the Guangdong province ports, our team checking options 
for customers to transport to Hong Kong for service. However, such operation will require local and China Customs handling and both shipper and consignee must agree on costs and incoterms to apply

We continue to do everything we can to mitigate the impact of congestion at Yantian and other South China ports, protecting our customers’ supply chains and providing alternative solutions where necessary. 

If you have any questions, concerns, or would like any further information regarding the situation in Yantian, you can EMAIL our managing director, Colin Redman, directly directly.