Singson to importers: Move cargos on weekends
MANILA, Philippines – Department of Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson urged importers to move shipment on weekends while Manila ports are still coping with poor road networks.
"There [are too] many volume and containers. People don't want to work on Saturdays and Sundays," Singson told reporters at Quezon City’s Gawad Parangal Monday morning, October 13. Singson was one of the honorees of what the city calls the “grandest conferment” given by the local government to individuals and institutions.
Singson also pointed out that the ordeal many importers face should not be blamed on his department. "There's nothing else I can do ... they just don't want to work on Saturdays and Sundays so the pick up heaps on regular days," he said, sounding irritated.
The private operator of the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) suggested on October 7 that the Manila harbor would need a better road network coming in and out of the Port of Manila.
Due to the poor road network, International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) general manager Christian Gonzalez said that the lifting of the truck ban, as well as diverting shipment to the ports of Batangas and Subic are merely band aid solutions to the problem.
The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) earlier tapped the ports of Batangas and Subic as alternate harbors for shipment to ease congestion in the port of Manila.
Gonzalez noted that "we're very lucky at the MICT because we have 4 kilometers of controlled roads which allow us to mitigate any queuing that was going on during the truck ban."
Aim for long-term solution
The Manila port is the country's busiest and largest seaport, and as a capital entry point of shipment from abroad, Gonzalez said imports and exports at the port will continue to grow.
"The growth will be coming from Greater Manila including Cavite which takes up 70% of the demand of imports," Gonzalez said.
The construction of the P18-billion ($403.49 million*) North Luzon and south Luzon expressway (NLEX-SLEX connector road) is also seen to be a long-term solution that would increase efficiency of moving shipments at the capital port.
But the project is likely to be completed only in mid-2017, following the Department of Justice (DOJ) opinion to subject the proposal to a Swiss Challenge, according to Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman of infrastructure giant Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC).
ICTSI is also considering a plan to implement a booking system for importers, where port customers would buy a scheduled window to control the volume of transactions the port receives in a given hour.
"It's a very good booking system which many countries use. I can make sure only 50 trucks (come to the port) every hour. If you don't have a booking, you get caught," said Christian Lozano, ICTSI commercial director.
ICTSI, one of the companies cited by the ASEAN Business Awards Philippines this year, is also the concessionaire of different ports in several countries in the world. – Rappler.com