Winter Olympics: China tightens zero-Covid strategy

Despite strict measures in Tianjin and Xi'an, a. hartrodt keeps cargo transport running.

Shortly before Chinese New Year on February 1 and the Winter Olympics 2022 in Beijing from February 4 to 20, a. hartrodt is trying to keep the cargo transport running in northern China. 150 kilometers from the capital, the port metropolis of Tianjin recently experienced the nation's largest local Omicron outbreak. After mass testing of the 14 million residents, residential areas remain partially sealed off. "Our 16 employees can work without restrictions, we all have a green code," says Hongtao Qu, Managing Director at a. hartrodt Tianjin Logistics.

Hinterland transportion: Shortage of truck drivers

The Chinese government is now tightening its strict zero-Covid strategy once again. Although Qu believes the critical infrastructure is largely stable: "In key areas such as the port of Tianjin, the risk of failure is minimized by rapid testing of the workforce." But he is concerned about increasing bottlenecks in hinterland transportation: " There is a shortage of truck drivers because they leave for vacation or have to wait for their green code."

Shifting sea freight partially to rail

Even though the impact of the pandemic on freight transport in China is unpredictable for Qu and his team, he has advice for customers: It is important to plan "as early as possible", he warns. Sea freight from Europe to China is regularly subject to delays, but a. hartrodt has no influence on this. To minimize the risk, the manager suggests transferring part of the cargo to rail. Despite a serious Covid outbreak in Xi'an, the rail hub there keeps on operating, "but very slowly". Air freight is something Qu tries to avoid as a very last option, "because it will be very expensive."

During the Winter Olympics, the government wants to reduce air pollution in the Greater Beijing Area. Qu expects production stops and traffic limitations. "Customers should book their truck needs now," he advises. But he remains confident: "We'll have everything under control by the time the Olympics start."