Lockdowns, 'skeletal' staffing cause Manila port congestion, truckers say


Posted at Apr 01 2020 09:07 AM | Updated as of Apr 01 2020 09:16 AM

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MANILA -- Lean staffing and COVID-19 lockdowns here and abroad are holding up tens of thousands of container vans at Manila port, threatening to shut it down, a group of truckers said Wednesday.

Some 40,000 vans are held at the port, of which, 30,000 are uncleared, said Mary Zapata, vice president of the Confederation of Truckers of the Philippines.

Documents from abroad that are needed to clear the shipments take some time to arrive since the ports of origin, like Luzon, are on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, Zapata told DZMM.

In Manila, offices are running on skeletal workforce and electronic systems were only recently adopted, she said.

"Parang nasa trial and error basis pa din tayo. Delayed ngayon (It seems we're on trial and error, hence the delay)," she said.

Asked if the congestion would cause the port to shut down, Zapata said: "That is not impossible to happen."

Zapata urged Customs to allow the clearing of cargo through its "super green lanes," which are faster.

Shippers will incur additional storage costs due to the congestion, which could be passed on to consumers, she said.