Truckers on Thursday said only a decisive action by President Benigno Aquino 3rd can solve the port congestion that supposedly is threatening the economy.
Mary Zapata, president of Binondo-based Aduana Business Club, a group of brokers, exports, importers and haulers, suggested three major steps that Malacañang could take to decongest the ports.
“If really the President is serious in solving port congestion, he has just to direct the concerned government agencies to lift the truck ban in Metro Manila, order the shipping lines to remove the empty containers in all ports, and transfer the empty containers to their respective depots, and allow our haulers easy access in and out of the ports,” Zapata told a forum at Aloha Hotel in Manila.
She said in lifting the truck ban, all local government agencies must coordinate with one another since there is a need to synchronize traffic management to avoid clogging of trucks along the roads.
Zapata cited a recent monster of a gridlock that paralyzed vehicular flow on North Luzon Expressway (NLEX).
The gridlock stemmed from Caloocan City (Metro Manila) restricting haulers to a single lane of NLEX, resulting in queues of trucks.
Zapata said the empty containers should be removed by the shipping lines themselves.
“Before, there was no problem with these empty containers because the shipping lines kept them in their respective depots. They should do that again,” she added.
The Philippine Ports Authority, according to her, should also provide easy access in and out of the ports so that the containers could immediately be delivered.
Zapata said the President has all the powers at his disposal to direct the concerned agencies and the local government units to follow and implement the three steps.
There are 35,000 haulers operating in the country and half of them are clients of Manila ports.
“It takes us two to three days to load the containers on the ships and it takes a week to return the empty containers. Just imagine the waste of time and manpower we incur,” Zapata said.
She added that Manila ports can only accommodate 4,000 to 6,000 haulers daily.
Meanwhile, Zapata challenged Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno to discipline the tow truck operators whom she accused of abusing their authority by indiscriminately apprehending truckers, including the practice of grabbing steering wheels.
“Of course, tow trucks could not tow our heavy haulers. So, their only option is to unseat our drivers from the steering wheel. The problem is they don’t know how to drive our heavy trucks since most of them are computerized,” she noted.