SEVERAL foreign chambers of commerce have called on the Aquino administration to immediately address port congestion before the problem hampers the country’s growing economy.
Among those that made the call were European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (CanCham), American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham) and Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines (JCCI).
Joining them were the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Inc. and various truckers associations in the country.
The groups said serious problems in the supply chain will persist if port congestion and resulting significant cost increases and delays in moving supplies are not recognized and addressed in a coordinated way.
“It is clear that the situation [at present]is not a port capacity issue but the confluence of lack of proper coordination between the national and local governments; ill-timed and misplaced regulatory restrictions; and the absence of long-term strategic planning and infrastructure development,” the traders said.
“All of these now impede the free flow of cargo and create damaging effects to the supply
chain and to the economy altogether,” they added.
The traders noted that regulatory restrictions to the free and unhampered flow of cargo movements to and from the ports have reduced the productivity per truck per month from 25 moves to only 10 to 12 moves, before recently improving to 13 to 15.
This loss of productivity has increased the demand for trucks from previously 6,000 to 8,000 units serving the Manila ports to above 20,000 units to deliver the same number of vans.
The traders claimed that the result aggravated traffic and tripled the cost of deliveries from P9,000 to P27,000.
They proposed several remedies to ease the problem: scrapping the requirement that trucks should acquire franchises from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, removing expiration of Gate Passes/Delivery Orders (DO) for container vans, reviewing allowable demurrage and detention charges for containers, restraining shuffling of containers from the ports of Manila to the ports of Subic and Batangas, promoting speedy upgrading of equipment in the secondary ports of Batangas and Subic by adding quay cranes and rubber tired gantry cranes and creating a direct link from the South Luzon Expressway-North Luzon Expressway connector to the port of Manila.