The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) announced that all of the country’s ports will remain open for business during the Jan. 15 to 19 visit of Pope Francis with the exception of the Manila South Harbor (MSH).
The port regulator has already advised its stakeholders to take additional measures to reduce the commercial impact of the slowdown in operations to give way to the security measures being put into place to guarantee the Pope’s safety while on Philippine soil.
The affected ports, meanwhile, include the Manila South Harbor (MSH), the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT), the North Port, the Harbour Centre Port Terminals, Inc. and the Tacloban baseport.
“It will be business as usual for Philippine ports during the Papal visit but on a calibrated procedure as we need to align our operations to the security measures being implemented,” PPA general manager Juan C. Sta. Ana explained.
“While it is expected to crowd our ports, particularly all the Manila ports and the Tacloban baseport, during those days, we have to strike a balance between the Pope’s safety and the uninterrupted flow to travel and trade to and from the country,” he added.
“MICT has already released their operational schedules as early as the end of last week, so we encourage our stakeholders to also adjust their workflow according to the said arrangements,” Sta. Ana said.
“However, Manila South Harbor will be closed for the full five-days due to its close proximity to the Manila Cathedral, and the Luneta Grandstand where the highlight of the Pope’s visit will be held,” the PPA chief stressed,
Based on the program released by MICT, the country’s top international gateways, they will remain fully operational and open to all transactions during the Papal visit.
MICT is encouraging all their users to pull out their import containers on the said dates in order not to disrupt operations specifically decongestion efforts and use the Northern truck routes to ensure smooth flow of land travel to their destinations.
The North Port, the country’s top domestic terminal, meanwhile, will likewise be on full commercial operations during the said dates.
For vessel operations, the Philippine Coast Guard limited the entry and exit of vessels only to the South entrance/Exit of the Manila Bay and entirely ban operations along the other gates including operations along the Pasig River.
In Tacloban, all berths will be open for ships except Berth 8 where it will be used to host the safety and rescue operations of the Papal visit in Tacloban on Saturday.
The operations inside the Tacloban baseport is now being prop-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.
Earlier, the PPA said the Papal visit is expected to hike congestion level at the Manila Ports if cargo owners will not move to pullout their cargoes from the piers prior to the Papal visit and during the calendared working schedule of the ports.
As of Wednesday or a day before the Papal visit, combined laden and empty yard utilization at MSH and MICT is at 97 percent.
The Manila ports are having high utilization levels due to a series of long holidays and weekends dating back to last month where businesses and cargo owners tend to slowdown their overall operations.
Earlier, the City Government of Manila as well as the Metro Manila Development Authority already advised that they are closing roads where Pope Francis, considered as the People’s Pope, will be visiting, that include roads leading to and from the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, UST in Espana, the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta, among others. PNA