Manila ports to ‘normalize’ in 4 weeks, says PPA

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Empty containers at the ports are being shipped out to Subic

REPERCUSSIONS. PEZA director-general Lilia de Lima warns of the repercussions of Manila's truck ban on Philippine exports. Romeo Gacad/AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Operations at the ports of Manila will normalize within the next 4 weeks, according to the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), as the government eases the congestion caused by the imposition of the day-time truck ban.

Some 17,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of empty containers occupying the Manila ports are being sent to Subic and other ports, said PPA general manager Juan Sta. Maria.

“Traffic being experienced right now is caused by the declogging of the ports brought about by the pile-up of containers… we expect that traffic will slowly ease up especially since Christmas is just around the corner,” said Sta. Maria.

In February, Mayor Joseph Estrada signed an ordinance, disallowing “cargo trucks, gravel and sand trucks, cement mixers and other heavy cargo trucks with 8 wheels and up or whose gross vehicle weights exceed 4,500 kilograms” to enter or pass through the city from 5 am to 9 pm, with a 10 am to 3pm window.

The truck ban caused a decline in cargo volume at ports. Data showed that containerized cargo volume went down 3.12% to 418,204 TEUs in April from 431,654 TEUs handled in the same period last year, due to the truck ban.

Foreign boxes declined by 6% to 247,547 TEUs, with import boxes falling 4.16% to 131,095 TEUs and export boxes dropping 8.1% to 116,452 TEUs.

Container traffic, meanwhile, posted a 3.6% decline to 1.73 million TEUs form January to April compared to 1.67 million TEUs in the same period of 2013.

In April, total ship calls retreated by 3% to 31,889 from 32,893.

As a compromise, Malacañang announced in June the opening of a 24-hour express lane along Roxas Boulevard for trucks, allowing them to go in and out of the Manila ports through the cities of Manila, Pasay, and Parañaque.

Sta. Maria said: “We need long-term solution to lure those shipping lines to return to the Philippines and the lifting of the truck ban for the entire Metro for 6 months is a very good start.”

Foreign shipping lines agreed to send sweepers which will ship out empty containers to Subic from the Manila ports, including the Manila International Container Terminal operated by International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) and the Manila South Harbor of Asian Terminals Inc.

In return, Subic Bay International Terminal Corporation and ICTSI agreed not levy any port fees, such as arrastre and stevedoring, on all shipping lines that will bring their empty containers to the former US military naval base. –

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