Isko on port congestion: Stop blaming Manila truck ban

Natashya Gutierrez
Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno tells truckers to behave while in Manila

BEHAVE. Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno defends its city's truck ban and asks truckers to behave. Rappler photo

MANILA, Philippines – “The most convenient thing is to blame Manila. But we will not allow it.”

Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno came to the Senate hearing on port congestion with guns blazing.

On Wednesday, August 13, Moreno defended the truck ban implemented by the city of Manila in February to address the problem of traffic jams in the metro – and which triggered congestion in Manila ports.

An exasperated Moreno, who stayed silent for the first half of the hearing, did not mince words, saying Manila was being unfairly blamed for the problem of port congestion, the slowdown of the economy, the rise of prices, the lack of livelihood for truckers, and traffic in other cities, among others.

“Even (the lack of) Chickenjoy at Jollibee is being blamed on the truck ban,” he said.

He then accused Confederation of Truckers Association of the Philippines director, Alberto Suansing, of lying to the Senate.

“Someone is lying when he said tracking fees went up because of the truck ban,” Moreno said. “Even before I was born, there was already a truck ban.”

Manila truck ban

Earlier, Suansing told the committee that tracking fees “went haywire when the truck ban was implemented in Manila,” because the period of engagement of trucks, or their turnaround time, became longer.

Moreno then went on to say the city had given truckers everything they asked for, including a 5-hour window instead of Manila’s original daytime truck ban, access to Roxas Boulevard, and a 24-hour express lane.

“What did you ask of Manila that we did not give you?” he asked.

Moreno also slammed protests staged by truckers since the truck ban, questioning their intentions.

“The truckers hostaged government agencies through rallies,” he said. “I thought we wanted to decongest? Then why were they rallying?”

On Monday, August 11, truckers marched towards the Bureau of Customs (BOC) protesting port congestion. They continued their rally on Tuesday.

‘Behave’

Moreno also accused trucks of careless driving in the city, highlighting an incident wherein a truck hit a girl in Manila.

“What we want is for operations in the pier to continue. But don’t be bullies on the road. Is that too much to ask?” he said.

Moreno said the city was willing to accommodate trucks at night, and would even give them one to two lanes if they agreed to night-time operations.

“We too want piers in Manila. You can stay, but you have to behave,” he said.

Suansing did not respond to Moreno in the hearing, but told reporters, “The Vice Mayor has been accusing me of lying. [But] we’re more than willing to cooperate.”

He said truckers are willing to work Sundays and Mondays even if this was not common practice in the industry, if it would help decongest ports.

After the implementation of the truck ban in Manila, empty container vans owned by shipping lines occupied 50% of the container yards unable to pass through roads, which caused the congestion at the ports.

This led to more problems because many local and international vessels were unable to dock and unload their cargoes, prompting major shipping lines to boycott the city ports as a result of a lack of berthing spaces.

At the hearing, stakeholders agreed to pull out containers over the weekend to ease congestion, and to explore night-time operations, while Moreno vowed access by trucks to the South Luzon Expressway starting Monday, August 18. – Rappler.com

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