How did Ritra Cargo handle the lockdown?
8 June 2020
We don’t need to tell you that we’ve been living in extraordinary times lately. But now that the government has relaxed its measures, we are cautiously but hopefully looking to the future. The past few months have been surreal. At the same time, it was also a great moment to show initiative and be creative. What is one to do when there are suddenly one day almost no more flights? What did the complete lockdown mean for what are for us major production countries like China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India? And how did we experience this period at Ritra? We would therefore like to review the last few months events together with you.
The beginning of the coronacrisis and countries in lockdown
After the extension of the Chinese New Year at the beginning of January in connection with the new COVID-19, no one could have suspected that this pandemic would spread so far. We tried somewhat naively to assess what the consequences would be for Europe if the virus struck here as well. But hardly anyone expected it to be on this scale. When our government also took its initial measures in mid-March, it became crystal clear that this was very serious.
In the third week of March we had to inform customers that both Pakistan and India had gone into lockdown. Bangladesh and South Africa soon followed suit, as did others. Contrary to the ‘intelligent lockdown’ as we know it here, these countries closed down real tight. Production came to a standstill, ships were not unloaded, warehouses were closed and everyone was obliged to stay inside. Fortunately, we can now report that most of the measures have been relaxed or even lifted fully. However, it will take some time before everything is back to normal levels.
It soon became clear that, after the coronavirus outbreak, the options for sea and air freight were very limited. The experience we gained during the initial lockdown in China drove us to decide to look for alternatives.
At the end of March, the first trains departed from Wuhan, where sea and air transport were only slowly getting underway. Thanks to the close contact with our local agent Cargo Services, we were able to make optimum use of rail transport to carry goods quickly and reliably.
In order to be able to offer another alternative, we also started looking for new possibilities. With the cooperation of two agents from our own network, another option has emerged: Sea/Air from China. This service, departing by ship from Weihai, China to Inchon, Korea where the consignments are shipped by airfreight from Seoul, arrives at Amsterdam Schiphol in about 8 to 9 days. This new service is a great addition to our already existing services.
Since 16 March, most of Ritra Cargo’s employees have been working from home, though the majority of us found this an awkward situation. But aside from the flexibility that it demanded of us, we’ve always managed to keep things running. By investing a great deal in IT in recent years, we were able to continue working comfortably at home too.
Of course we also try to maintain close contact with our customers and with each other. A Ritra app group in which the latest news is shared and no birthday is missed, meetings via Skype and a weekly internal news bulletin from management all ensure that we remain the close-knit club we like to be!
Ritra Cargo also made an (all too) modest contribution to the aid measures. We were for example delighted to be involved in various relief-goods transport. We also sent cheerful cards and brought flower boxes to our ‘neighbours’, the residents of Stichting Sonneburgh, who unfortunately were no longer allowed to receive visitors due to the lockdown situation. Life can be difficult, and it often flies past. But we’re convinced that we can handle this together.
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