What needs to be done to ease port congestion

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 13 2014 05:16 PM | Updated as of Dec 14 2014 09:26 AM

MANILA -- The Port Congestion Multi-sectoral Working Group (PC-MWG) gave suggestions on how to ease port congestion in Metro Manila, especially during the holidays.

In a statement released Friday, PC-MWG explained that the government, along with the private sector, has achieved significant gains in easing congestion at the Port of Manila.

However, further measures should be put in place to make up for the backlog in undelivered goods due to the holiday import surge.

"While there has been significant progress in the port problem, it is still far from being solved," said PC-MWG co-chairperson Ernesto Ordonez.

"We are very grateful for efforts of the groups and organizations that have addressed this problem, however, concerted action on the remaining challenges are crucial," he added.

PC-MWG believes that keeping Roxas Boulevard open to trucks during the holidays will help ease congestion. Of the estimated 6,000 trucks that use the port daily, 2,000 of them pass through Roxas Boulevard. These vehicles are now forced to reroute to narrower side streets, which lead to logistical problems.

The government should also look for a separate space to stock "empties". Empty containers parked at the port are clogging the movement of goods and they urgently need to be stored in alternative locations.

The group added that shipping lines should take responsibility for their containers by investing in more container yards and by taking on the costs of keeping container yards open so that trucks can unload the empties when they need to and in the most efficient manner.

The PC-MWG is asking that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) streamline the seven requirements necessary for the issuance of Import Clearance Certificates (ICC). This will result in dramatically speedier flow of trade by allowing importers, many of whom are forced to resort to unnecessarily cumbersome means of getting their goods into the country because of heavy-handed regulations.

The group also asks for a moratorium on the 15-year truck (No Year Confirmation) rule. The NYC has effectively curtailed the country’s trucking capacity by 70 percent, thereby dramatically hindering the movement of crucial goods to the people and businesses who need them. A review should be conducted in the meantime while public hearings are being done with the relevant stakeholders on the feasibility of the LTFRB's plans.

"The government and the private sector have achieved a lot in terms of reducing the port congestion problem, but we have not solved it yet. We look forward to a productive dialogue and collaboration with port stakeholders to respond to this great challenge that our nation faces," Ordonez said.