Nighttime, weekend operations seen to decongest Manila ports

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Congestion at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) and the Port of Manila (POM) is expected to ease once planned nighttime and weekend operations there push through.

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During a Senate committee on hearing on the port congestion on Wednesday, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) expressed willingness to extend their operation at night in order to give way for release of cargos.

It was the City of Manila, which was represented by Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, who requested the nighttime port operations, noting that it would provide container trucks more road space and decongest traffic in the country’s premier city.

Moreno, during the Senate panel hearing, said Manila is willing to allot more road lanes for container trucks if they would agree to operate at night, citing light nighttime traffic.

Customs Commissioner John Sevilla and PPA Assistant General Manager Raul Santos, who were also present during the hearing, supported the proposal, saying it would help speed up port decongestion.

Many local and international vessels are unable to dock and unload their cargos in the MICP and the Port of Manila, due to the port congestion supposedly brought about by a daytime truck ban imposed by the Manila city government.

The daytime truck ban has reportedly affected the inflow and outflow of cargos in the ports and forced trucks to unload empty containers along the roads inside the ports.

Sevilla said they would also start the weekend operations and hire additional personnel in order to accommodate all transactions.

“We have office on Saturday and Sunday on an experimental basis, but we are willing to continue the operation if it would help ease congestion” he     told senators.

It was learned that transactions in the two ports are only done from Tuesday to Friday.

Truck operators and traders agreed to give the extended port operations a try in a bid to help bring back order to the ports and avert further delays in the movement of cargos.

Truck owners also requested reopening of the South Expressway to Port of Manila corridor, which means allowing trucks to have access to Quirino Avenue going to Osmena Highway.

Moreno said he would immediately bring their request to the city council of Manila and vowed to have their request acted on by Monday next week.

Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino 3rd, who heads the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, said the proposal is part of short-term solutions to port decongestion.

The committee also tackled traffic congestion brought about by Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Resolution 5, which extended the “No Apprehension Policy” of trucks-for-hire (TH) with green plates from July 29 to August 29.

LTFRB Chairman Winston Gines said the policy only covers 32,000 trucks that were issued provisional authority by the board for them to continue to operate while waiting for the release of their franchises or certificates of public convenience         this October.

He added that starting August 17, all trucks for hire that do not have a pending application at the LTFRB will be targeted by a campaign against colorum or illegal vehicles by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Land Transportation Office and local government units.

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