MANILA – The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) said congestion at the Ports of Manila is expected to worsen with the arrival of Pope Francis on January 15.
PPA General Manager Juan Sta. Ana said that after the nine-day Christmas holiday break, yard utilization at the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) of International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) and Manila South Harbor of Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI) increased to 89 percent from 79 percent on December 24.
Sta. Ana said that based on estimates by the Port Congestion-Multisectoral Working Group (PC-MWG), yard utilization will climb by 3 percent a day during the 5-day Papal visit from January 15 to 19.
He said the number of vessels waiting at the pilot station increased to 17. The figure does not include the 5 currently docked at South Harbor and 7 at MICT as of January 7.
“Unlike the nine-day Christmas break wherein all roads are open, the Papal visit will close almost all major routes to and from the Manila ports to give way to the festivities which will slow down, if not paralyze, port operations,” Sta. Ana said.
Sta. Ana and the Cabinet Cluster on Port Congestion (CCPC) urged cargo owners to claim shipments already cleared by the Bureau of Customs to make space at the ports.
“We need the spaces in preparation for a worst-case scenario to accommodate the incoming import cargoes from vessels. We are anticipating difficulty accessing the ports during the Papal visit but we do not expect the vessels to slow down in bringing in cargoes for the country, so we are asking the participation of each stakeholder to maintain our decongestion efforts,” he said.
PPA warned that yard utilization will return to congestion level if it does not go down during the Pope’s visit.