Water levels in the Rhine river in Germany have fallen again after this weeks heatwave cargo vessels are sailing with significantly reduced loads, because of this problem, the shallow water is hampering shipping on the entire river in the south of Germany affecting cities like Duisburg and Cologne.
The problem everyone is worried about is that the shallow water vessel operators impose surcharges on freight rates, increasing costs for cargo owners.
Plus the Rhine river being one of the most important shipping routes in Germany for commodities including grains, minerals, coal and oil products such as heating oil.
German companies faced supply bottlenecks and production problems in 2018 after a drought and heatwave led to unusually low water levels on the Rhine.
Thankfully shipping during low water is not officially stopped, and can still sail however with a reduction in loads. It depends on the vessel type if they can load 50% or only 30% of their cargo.
Now what does Germany have to say about this?
Well, the German industry association BDI said it was concerned the low water could cause a longer-term reduction in river shipping capacity if disruption means vessel owners cannot operate profitably.
“The situation can escalate, even though supply to industry via waterways is still secure,” it said. “For the first time this summer, some water levels on the Rhine have fallen below the extreme weather year of 2018.”
The association called on Germany’s government to provide financial support to modernise the country’s inland waterways fleet with new ships more able to operate in shallow waters.
We can most likely expect more there to be more truck traffic on the road as everyone looks for alternative routes to transport their goods to avoid delays.
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