Gov't urged to reduce Manila port capacity

Michelle Ong, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 03 2017 02:39 PM

MANILA - Government should consider shifting cargo traffic to ports outside Metro Manila to help decongest the capital and spread growth to the countryside, an economist said Thursday.

Freight forwarders and truckers gravitate towards the capital without an explicit policy to spread traffic, said former socioeconomic planning secretary Cielito Habito.

"Hindi na kaya ng kalsada natin (Our streets can't take it any longer)," said Habito, who is also chief of party of USAID's Trade Related Assistance for Development project.

"We have to be forward-thinking, to shift shipping cargo traffic to ports outside Manila, to make it easier for goods to make it to their destinations, producers," he said.

A Manila port congestion problem during the Aquino administration was a "blessing in disguise" since it forced the shipping industry to utilize Batangas and Subic ports.

Habito said now could be the time to position the Philippines as a transshipment hub akin to Kaoshiung in Taiwan, which was first envisioned in the 1990s by then President Fidel Ramos.