Ship shipments hit hard by falling water levels in Germany’s Rhine

Cargo transportation has become difficult due to falling water levels in Germany’s Rhine.

The country’s main industry group lobby, the BDI, has warned the government that factories may need to cut production or stop altogether.

The level of the Rhine at Emmerich, close to the Dutch border, dropped by four centimeters in just 24 hours to ‘zero’ on the depth gauge.

Officials say the shipping line itself is still around 200 centimeters deep, but the record low Tuesday morning has everyone worried.

The extreme lack of water caused by the drought affecting most of Europe continues to negatively affect life in every area.

“Continuing drought and low water levels threaten the industry’s security of supply,” said Holger Loesch, BDI vice president.

Supply bottleneck imminent

Loesch said it was also difficult to shift freight from river to train or transport due to limited rail capacity and lack of drivers.

“It is only a matter of time before plants in the chemical and steel industry are shut down, petroleum and construction materials do not reach their targets, and high-capacity and heavy-duty transportation is no longer possible. This can lead to supply bottlenecks.”

Loesch warned that energy supplies could be even more strained as ships carrying coal and gasoline along the Rhine are affected.

Early action should be taken

The BDI said this year’s droughts could become more frequent in the future and urged the government to monitor water levels closely and take early action against potential transport problems in Germany’s waterways.

Experts say climate change is making extreme weather, including heatwaves and droughts, more likely.

Germany’s weather service, on the other hand, predicted heavy rain could arrive towards the weekend, which could provide some relief to river shipping companies.

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