The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) on Sunday vowed to speed up decongestion efforts at the two ports of Manila following the lifting of the truck ban in the city.
“We appreciate the gesture of the City Government of Manila in lifting their truck ban and we as port operators now need to work double-time to immediately decongest the ports and free up much space as possible,” PPA General Manager Juan Sta. Ana said.
Despite the lifting of the truck ban, however, the official said that the PPA and the two operators of Manila’s ports would continue to relocate overstaying customs-cleared containers and impose higher fees.
Sta. Ana explained that instead of devising new measures to decongest the ports, the agency and the operators decided to stick with the solutions earlier agreed upon.
The PPA official said port operators still have lot of areas to clear before reaching the desired yard utilization level of 80 percent.
“We have to implement everything,” Sta. Ana said. “We could not relax because the City of Manila Truck Ban was already lifted,” he added.
He also said, “We will now immediately look at how to facilitate receiving the held-up cargoes in nearby foreign ports as well as the influx of boxes brought about by the run-up to Christmas.”
“The lifting of the truck ban has given us the chance to decongest the port and get back to our normal way of life sooner than anticipated,” Sta. Ana said.
On Saturday, Mayor Joseph Estrada of Manila heeded the call of several groups to lift the city’s truck ban after observing that it has negatively affected the economy and the prices of goods by restricting the movement of trade trucks, resulting in longer delivery time, shortage in raw materials, and even loss of employment.
On Friday, terminal operators International Container Terminal Services, Inc. and Asian Terminals, Inc. evicted about 135 overstaying Customs-cleared containers to Subic onboard MV West Ocean 3.
The vessel, operated by the Super Shuttle Service of ICTSI, left the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) on Friday morning, reaching Subic in the evening of the same day.
The vessel is again set to sail on Tuesday to carry another 135 overstaying customs-cleared containers and every Friday and Tuesday after that.
The terminal operators have also hired 1,000 trucks to eject some 2,000 overstaying customs-cleared containers from Manila to a four-hectare facility in Cabuyao, Laguna on Sunday morning. The relocation will be undertaken again on the four following Sundays.
The operators are trying to remove about 5,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) of overstaying customs-cleared, ready-to-go containers at the MICT and the Manila South Harbor to provide enough space for incoming cargoes.
On October 1, the port operators will be imposing the P5,000 per container storage fee after the five-day free storage period offered by the PPA. This is meant to discourage cargo owners from reportedly using the terminals as their virtual warehouses. However, instead of imposing the fine on the sixth day, the operators will impose the fee on the 11th day after getting clearance from the Bureau of Customs, effectively allowing cargo owners at least 10 days to remove their cargoes from Manila’s ports.
Meanwhile, the Metro Manila Development Authority is set to meet today to discuss the traffic scheme to be adopted in light of Manila’s lifting of its truck ban.