Oxygen curbs hit container availability

Exports affected as ‘thousands of damaged containers unusable’; gas key to welding process in repairs. The curbs placed on industrial use of oxygen by the Centre to augment availability of medical grade oxygen for hospitals to save lives of critically ill COVID-19 patients, is impacting exporters by exacerbating a shortage of containers.
Thousands of damaged containers, which arrived with import consignments on shipping lines, have not been repaired due to lack of oxygen and are hence not available for exporters, said industry executives.

“Since mid-January, the situation in container movement was easing, following government intervention. But the second wave of the pandemic and shortage of industrial oxygen supply has aggravated the issue of container shortage,” said Sanjay Bhatia, co-founder & CEO, Freightwalla, a digital freight-forwarding company.

“Oxygen is essential for repairs and welding of damaged containers; due to the prohibition it cannot be availed of. It has now become a big issue. There are thousands of empty containers lying unrepaired. This has further added to the crisis for exporters,” he said, adding the problem started from the third week of April.