Mexican rail blockade continues to affect freight flows
Posted - October 8, 2020
“Road blockades in Michoacán state result in lack of connectivity to major industrial centers in the west, central and north of [Mexico]. It is important that smooth traffic of goods transiting this network is maintained so as not to affect major industrial sectors and consumer centers,” Alexandra Loboda, managing director for Middle America Maersk, told FreightWaves.
Denmark-based Maersk is the world’s largest shipping container carrier and has operations at five Mexican seaports, including the Port of Lázaro Cárdenas.
Loboda said Maersk continues to talk with customers about disruptions of freight shipments from the port.
“We ask our customers to consider that the delay in platform assignment times at port and internal ramps is expected, as well as the movement of trains to their final destination,” Loboda said.
Port Lázaro Cárdenas is located along the Pacific Ocean in the central Mexican state of Michoacán. The port is the second largest in Mexico behind the Port of Manzanillo.
According to Mexico’s Secretariat of Communications and Transport (SCT), the Port of Lázaro Cárdenas moved 523,589 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) from January through June, down 20.9% from 662,060 TEUs in the same period last year.
The decline in commercial cargo at the port over the first half of the year was attributed to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Along with the pandemic, several different railroad blockades have been staged across Mexico over the last several months.
Mexican farmers protesting water rights have blocked railway tracks in Sonora and Chihuahua since Aug. 26, costing Mexico’s economy millions in delayed freight, according to trade officials. The rail blockade in Chihuahua has been ongoing for more than 40 days, according to news outlet T21.
Teacher and student protesters also began blocking railways in Michoacán sporadically over the summer, according to media reports. The protesters are demanding the payment of bonuses and scholarships and the automatic allocation of jobs to more than 2,000 recent graduates.
On Friday, the protesters seized a police patrol vehicle, a Corona beer truck and a tractor-trailer loaded with groceries to block train tracks in the town of Caltzontzin, according to the Mexican Association of Railways (AMF).
The blockade of the railroad tracks in the town of Caltzontzin in Michoacán is affecting the operation of 18 trains and trucks leaving the port of Lázaro Cárdenas, the AMF said.
Kansas City Southern de Mexico (KCSM) is the provider of rail service for the Port of Lázaro Cárdenas through Michoacán. KCSM officials said they have been in discussions with Mexican authorities to aid the unblocking of affected tracks.
“We hope that the issue that has blocked the roads in Michoacán will be resolved soon. We request the intervention of the authorities to remove the blockades on the Michoacán railroad, an important transportation route between the port and the center of the country,” tweeted KCSM President Óscar del Cueto on Monday.
Mexican trade officials have also requested the intervention of federal authorities to free the railroad tracks.
Francisco Cervantes Díaz, president of the Confederation of Industrial Chambers (CONCAMIN), has said the railroad blockades are costing Mexico’s economy around $18.6 million a day.