The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) said that the closure of major routes in Manila during the visit of Pope Francis may result in port congestion anew. To avert the possibility of congestion, port officials are asking companies to get their cargoes from the yards as soon as possible.
Atty. Juan Sta. Ana, PPA General Manager, said unlike the 9-day Christmas break where all roads were open, the Papal visit will slowdown, if not paralyze, port operations.
The Manila City as well as the Metro Manila Development Authority already advised that they are closing roads where Pope Francis 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.
In 1995, Pope John Paul II visited Manila for the World Youth Day and it slowed down port operations for a couple of days. However, that time, there was no port congestion.
“PPA, along with the Cabinet Cluster headed by Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, is appealing to all cargo owners with cleared cargoes pending before the two ports to immediately pick those up soonest to vacate as much space as possible,” Sta. Ana said.
“We need the spaces in preparation for a worst-case scenario to accommodate the incoming import cargoes from vessels,” he added.
Latest data from port operators, meanwhile, showed that combined yard utilization is at 89 percent from 79 percent on December 24, which was the start of the 9-day break.
The Port Congestion-Multisectoral Working Group (PC-MWG), on the other hand, estimated that port congestion would increase by 3 percent a day during the long Christmas break assuming the slow movement of goods during holidays and will likely reach 107 percent by the end of the holidays when the private sector will move the cargo as slow as they do during the weekends.