Ad Hoc Intermodalism: Containers being Unloaded to a Barge

Ad Hoc Intermodalism: Containers being Unloaded to a Barge, Shanghai, 1992

Photo: Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue, 1992.

Containers have shown some capability to use standard transport modes, notably maritime. In this picture, a cargo ship not designed to handle containers unload part of its load in a fluvial barge in the port of Shanghai, which has also not been designed to handle containers (they are loaded sideways). However, this can be labeled as a very inefficient ad hoc form of intermodalism. Container terminals are expensive facilities, and developing countries often find alternatives to deal with containerization, at least during a transitional period, such as was the case in China in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In the following years, China undertook massive investments in the development of modern maritime container terminals to support its export-oriented activities. Thus, such operations have disappeared and been replaced by modern intermodal operations with specialized equipment.