Manila South Harbor closed January 18
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Manila South Harbor (MSH) will close on Sunday afternoon, January 18, to yield to an expected huge buildup of people at the nearby Rizal Park, where Pope Francis will celebrate mass.
The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) made this clarification Wednesday afternoon, January 14, a departure from its earlier announcement that MSH would close from January 15 to 19.
“We need to align our operations with the security measures being implemented,” said PPA general manager Juan Sta Ana in a clarificatory statement issued hours after its initial statement.
MSH is one of the two seaports that comprise the congested Manila harbor. The Manila International Container Terminal will remain fully operational “and open to all transactions during the papal visit.”
PPA General Manager Juan Sta. Ana explained that MSH has to be closed on Sunday afternoon due to its proximity to Rizal Park, where the Pope will celebrate mass that day.
The PPA amended its earlier statement of a 5-day closure for the MSH shortly after a Palace official tasked with overseeing port congestion in Manila denied “rumors” that all Manila ports would be closed for the duration of the papal visit.
“The ports of Manila will not be closed for 5 days as rumored,” Malacañang said on Wednesday, quoting Secretary to the Cabinet Rene Almendras.
It added, "During the holidays, the ports will be operating even if they will not be able to accept outbound cargoes as they will continue to unload ships and will load and move out empties to alleviate the extent of empty containers already in the country."
Almendras also assured businessmen, importers and exporters that the papal visit
"will not significantly hamper our continuous efforts for the efficient operations of the port of Manila," Malacañang said.
Malacañang also clarified that the government has not implemented a "total truck ban" during the 5-day holiday.
Except for the routes where the Pope will pass through, roads across Metro Manila are open for truck to ply, said Malacañang.
“The routes that will be temporarily closed and will be re-opened when the events venue has been cleared.” it added.
Limited operations at Tacloban port
Meanwhile, operations at Tacloban’s baseport will also be limited, said Sta Ana.
According to Sta Ana, the port’s Berth 8 will serve as the Pope’s base for safety and rescue operations.
“The operations inside the Tacloban baseport is now being propped-up, including passenger assistance facilities to ensure safety, security, and convenience as the roads leading to and from the ports are expected to be closed while the Pope is in the city,” he said.
Since last week, the government has been urging the private sector to pull out as many of their containers as they can from the Port of Manila as the Feast of the Black Nazarene on January 9, and the visit of Pope Francis would interrupt movement of shipments. – Rappler.com
Join Rappler in a 100-day countdown to Pope Francis' visit to the Philippines: a journey from the Vatican to Tacloban. Tweet us your thoughts using the hashtag #PopeFrancisPH!