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Trucking official: Empty containers more of a concern than ‘freedom convoy’ coming to NJ

Gov. Phil Murphy has expressed concern that a similar protest convoy could impact New Jersey

News 12 Staff

Feb 15, 2022, 11:16 PM

Updated 853 days ago

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The chief of the Ottawa Police Department resigned on Tuesday, one day after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared an emergency in response to the so-called “Freedom Convoy” of truckers blocking traffic.
Gov. Phil Murphy has expressed concern that a similar protest convoy could impact New Jersey. At Port Newark, there does not seem to be much of an appetite for an American version of the Canadian trucker protest.
“Most of our drivers are vaccinated in the vast majority. We never had any mandate from company-wide or anything. People did it on their own,” says Tom Heimgartner, chairman of the Bi-State Motor Freight Association.
He says that there are bigger issues to deal with, such as delays and long waits amid supply chain issues made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s costing us drivers. Guys are leaving the industry because of the frustration. What we call the driver experience,” Heimgartner says.
Heimgartner founded Best Trucking 40 years ago. He has been the chairman of the Bi-State Motor Freight Association for three years.
His desk in his office at Port Newark is made from a shipping container. Containers such as this are the source of his livelihood, and the sources of his frustration.
“The port is so crowded. The single biggest issue we have is space for empties,” he says.
All of the containers in Heimgartner’s lot are empty. There are thousands of empty containers throughout the port. It makes the backlog worse and is costing the trucking companies money in fees.
“It’s actually more profitable for these ocean carriers to have new containers built overseas in Asia and bring them here and leave them here than it is to bring empties back,” Heimgartner says.
This takes up valuable space. Heimgartner estimates 100,000 empty containers are sitting in and around the port.
“We’re getting squeezed, and our customers are getting squeezed,” he says.
Heimgartner wants the governor to back an effort to clear out the empty containers and keep containers flowing.
The Bi-State Motor Freight Association represents 75-80% of the volume that goes through Port Newark.


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