• BOC: Relieving port congestion will take time

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    The Bureau of Customs (BOC) said on Friday it will take some time before the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) and the Port of Manila (POM) can be fully decongested.

    Citing the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), BOC Spokesman Charo Logarta said that they are going to move out 8,000 containers a day, but even that will not reduce the backlog of containers in the two ports before the end of the year.

    “According to the Department of Trade and Industry, for us to put the port back to normal level, meaning the utilization of 50 to 60 percent [available capacity for containers], which is fairly healthy, we need to be moving out 8,000 containers a day,” Logarta said.

    “There’s no way we can do that from now until December 31,” she added.

    However, she clarified that the government is now finding ways to decongest the ports, adding that they are now coordinating with the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to move out overstaying containers to Subic and Batangas ports.

    Beginning this weekend, the two private port operators in Manila will transfer about 3,000 shipping containers to Subic to decongest the MICT and the POM.

    Maximize weekend operations
    Meanwhile, Logarta pointed out that port congestion will only be resolved if the importers and brokers maximize the weekend operations of the bureau since there is less traffic on these days.

    She said that the BOC is always open for operations, including weekends and holidays. She added that the local government of Manila has provided some traffic rules relieve some of the restrictions of the truck ban they imposed.

    Logarta, quoting Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla, said that there are 50,000 to 75,000 overstaying containers that are congesting the two major ports in Manila.

    She explained that overstaying containers are those that have already been cleared by the BOC, but for “whatever reasons” have not been taken out by importers and brokers.

    She noted that the BOC has no control over the physical movements of the containers, but “only processes the import documents and inspects.”

    Unfair to blame the BOC
    In another development, Logarta said that it is unfair for the BOC to be blamed for increases in prices of imported frozen products, which are attributed to the port congestion.

    “I don’t think it’s fair to blame the BOC for the situation because it was cause by several factors,” Logarta said.

    A group of supermarket owners has reportedly claimed that the port congestion in Manila has caused the prices of imported frozen products to go up.

    Steven Cua, president of the Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association (Pagasa) said in a report that the prices of a variety of imported frozen products will continue to go up if the port congestion in Manila is not resolved.

    Instead of blaming the BOC or other agencies, Logarta urged both the private and public sectors to work hand in hand to find ways to decongest port areas in Manila.

    “I think the more important thing right now is for all sectors, both private and public, to really come together and find ways to decongest the port,” she said.

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