MANILA - If Malacañang can have its way, truckers should not be banned in the streets of Metro Manila, especially at a time when the economy is booming.
Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said this was the position taken by Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, who has been coordinating with the city government of Manila to reconsider its ordinance on daytime truck ban.
Starting today, eight-wheeler trucks are prohibited from traveling the city’s streets from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Violators of the truck ban will be fined P5,000 and their vehicles impounded.
“We have a very high GDP (gross domestic product) growth because of our export and import,” Coloma said.
“We have to help our exporters, importers and the truckers to move around and consider as well the effects of our infrastructure projects, like the Skyway Stage 3, which started just a week ago,” he added.
Longer window period
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino announced yesterday what he called a “win-win” solution for the local government of Manila and the truckers.
Tolentino said Mayor Joseph Estrada had agreed to lengthen the window time from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The city government of Manila conceded to the requests of truckers and exporters to modify its daytime truck ban.
From an outright ban of trucks during daytime, Manila will now allow trucks to enter the city during a five-hour window, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cargo trucks and cement mixers are included in the ban. On the other hand, haulers carrying perishable goods, oil tankers, and trucks used for government projects are exempted from the ban. But these will have to get permits from the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau before they will be allowed to pass through the city streets.
The ordinance was originally set for implementation on Feb. 4 but was postponed due to calls from truck owners and operators to review the truck ban.
Tolentino said the new window time would give truck drivers an additional two hours to travel in the city.
Truck owners and operators had earlier threatened to go on holiday to oppose the truck ban.
Tolentino said they are still studying the city government’s plan to allow trucks to pass through Roxas Boulevard as this is expected to create traffic jams in the area.
Meanwhile, the Port Users Confederation (PUC) yesterday said the 10 p.m. to 3 p.m. window period is not enough for truckers to pick up their cargo from the Manila International Container Terminal and South Harbor.
“That’s too short for trucks to enter the city and haul containers out of the ports,” said Rodolfo de Ocampo, president of PUC and the Confederation of Truckers Association of the Philippines.
He said the implementation of the daytime truck ban will disrupt operations at the two ports.
“We are not sending out our trucks on Monday. But we are not staging a boycott. It’s really not possible to send out a truck to haul containers within that window. Sayang lang ang krudo (It’s just a waste of fuel),” De Ocampo told The STAR in a phone interview.
Truck ban in Caloocan eyed
Caloocan Mayor Oscar Malapitan yesterday said the City Council is set to pass a resolution banning cargo trucks from entering the city.
“The council will pass a resolution on Tuesday that would effectively implement a truck ban in the city, particularly in the Dagat-Dagatan area,” Malapitan told The STAR.
He said the city is bent on following Manila’s truck ban out of necessity “because if we don’t, we will be bearing the load.”
Cargo trucks going to Port Area in Manila pass through Dagat-Dagatan Avenue and C-3 Road, creating traffic congestion in the area.
Meanwhile, an administration lawmaker recommended to the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to shift cargo traffic from Manila to the Batangas port to help ease traffic congestion due to ongoing major road construction in the metropolis.
Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu said the BOC should seriously consider this option to lessen the volume of trucks traveling along major thoroughfares in Metro Manila.
“If the BOC issues an administrative order stating that all Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) bound shipments will only be processed in Batangas port then the cargo volume will naturally shift there,” he said.
Abu said the Port of Batangas is so far the only Customs office in the country that is ISO certified, which proves its world-class capability of handling and processing shipment transactions.
Based on data submitted by the International Container Terminal Services Inc. to the PPA in June 2013, 66 percent of cargo volume that pass through the Manila International Container Terminal are bound for Calabarzon.
Laguna-bound shipment accounted for 43 percent of the total cargo in 2012, with shipments bound for San Pedro, Sta. Rosa, Canlubang and Calamba. Batangas accounted for 15 percent and the remaining eight percent for Cavite.
“In our last committee hearing, PPA reported a mere four percent utilization of the Batangas container terminal. This gross underutilization of a facility built using a P5.5-billion loan from the Japanese government is an injustice to the government due to loss of revenue and the people of Batangas as they are deprived of livelihood opportunities,” Abu said.
Batangas port has modern facilities and adequate road infrastructure from Manila to Batangas, Abu said. – With Perseus Echeminada, Rainier Allan Ronda, Rey Galupo, Paolo Romero