Port operator DP World said it is looking to recruit up to 40,000 dockworkers in the run-up to Christmas to help ease the container congestion building up at its sites globally.

DP World, which runs the state-of-art London Gateway and Southampton ports in the UK, warned it did not expect the current problems to be sorted out for ‘a long time’.

Adding 40,000 dockworkers would increase its workforce by around 70%, underlining the current scale of the problem.

Only yesterday, Felixstowe, which handles around 36% of UK container freight, confirmed ships were being turned away due to a backlog of cargo caused by the HGV driver shortage in the UK.

Shipping giant Maersk said yesterday it was dropping containers off in Europe and then shipping to the UK in smaller vessels because of the problems.

Lars Mikael Jensen, the Danish group’s ocean network head, added: “There are not enough truck drivers to move the containers away and bring back the empty ones, so everything takes longer because there is no space.”

DP World’s warning came at a conference in Dubai from its chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, who added: “These are the complications. Nobody knows how long it’s going to take. I think it’s going to take a long time. The problem is complicated because you have a backlog of cargo.”

Other countries around the world are suffering container problems, with ships queuing to unload in California and in China and some other Asian ports.

A spokesman for the port of Rotterdam told the BBC: “It’s more to do with Covid than anything else because of the balance of empty and full containers being in the wrong place.”

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