• Ports 3,000 containers shy of decongestion

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    The Philippine Ports Authority reported that the country’s two port operators need only to move 3,000 more containers to decongest the port.

    The ideal cargo flow in the country’s ports is to limit yard use to 80 percent of capacity. The average at Manila’s two container yards is at 81 percent over the weekend, according to PPA General Manager Juan Sta. Ana, boosting hopes that the ports will be fully decongested by early next year.

    Sta. Ana added that vessel queue at the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) was reduced by half in the last couple of days.

    Containers are moving out of the yard at a fast clip despite the influx of cargoes due to the run-up to Christmas, Sta. Ana said.

    He explained that all sectors are working double time and contributing their share to bring back port operations level before the truck ban was imposed by the city of Manila.

    Sta. Ana said decongestion efforts being imposed in the last couple of months are already paying off.

    “Yard utilization has been significantly reduced giving our port operators ample elbow room to maneuver to send out and take in containers compared to the condition a couple of weeks ago,” Sta. Ana said.

    “If we can sustain such efforts in the next couple of months, we will hit our target to fully decongest the ports by early next year,” Sta. Ana added.

    As of December 12, the combined yard utilization of the Manila Ports—composed of the MICT and the Manila South Harbor (MSH)—is pegged at 81 percent (approx. 66,000 twenty-foot equivalent units) or just 1 percent above the 80 percent target (approx. 65,200 TEUs) set by the Cabinet Cluster on Port Congestion. MICT has a yard utilization of 84 percent or approximately 42,400 TEUs while MSH has a utilization of 77 percent or approximately 23,800 TEUs.

    Also, the number of vessels at queue was reduced to a combined total of 16 vessels excluding those currently at berth from a high of 30 a couple of weeks ago. As of December 12, MICT has 6 vessels at berth with 12 vessels at queue while MSH has 4 vessels at berth and 4 vessels at queue.

    Toward the end of November, yard utilization level even breached the target level after it went down to 78 percent but the subsequent weekend brought back the level to above 80 percent.

    Currently, the PPA, along with the Cabinet Cluster on Port Congestion headed by Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras continues to negotiate with Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Metro Manila Council to allow trucks to ply the Roxas Boulevard area beyond December 22. Starting Wednesday, December 17, MMDA will again allow trucks to ply Roxas Blvd. from midnight to 5AM but only until December 22.

    On December 3, MMDA imposed a total truck ban along Roxas Blvd to help ease holiday traffic and allow preparations for the Papal visit to be set in place. As a result, combined container gate outs from the two Manila Ports declined by at least 10 percent from an average of 7,000 twenty-foot equivalent units from Monday to Friday to an average of 6,200 TEUs.

    “We are making all measures work that is why we are adjusting almost everything. With these, we are banking on the private sector to do their share,” Sta. Ana said.

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