Possible port congestion seen due to 10-day holiday

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 16 2014 06:34 PM | Updated as of Dec 17 2014 02:40 AM

MANILA – The upcoming 10-day holiday period during the Christmas season may cause yard utilization at the ports of Manila to reach near congestion level, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) warned.

PPA general manager Juan Sta. Ana warned that the 10-day holiday from December 24 to 28 and from December 30 to January 4 will definitely clog the port with incoming imports.

“Our port operators will be operating 24/7 except New Year’s Day as vessels continue to come in even during this holiday season,” he said.

Sta. Ana urged importers and cargo owners to withdraw their cargoes early and double the volume of shipment, if possible.

He noted that the private sector plays a key role in sustaining the government’s decongestion efforts at the ports.

“I am urging all our importers, brokers, truckers, freight forwarders, cargo owners and other right holders to withdraw their cargoes early or double their volume withdrawals as a pre-emptive measure against a potential congestion brought about by the holidays,” he said.

He added that the Bureau of Customs will implement operational measures to ensure clearance of cargoes even during the holidays.

As of December 12, the combined yard utilization of Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) of the International Container Terminal Services Inc. and the Manila South Harbor of Asian Terminals Inc. stood at 81 percent or about 66,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs).

MICT has a yard utilization of 84 percent or approximately 42,400 TEUs. Manila South Harbor, on the other hand, has a utilization of 77 percent or approximately 23,800 TEUs.

A yard utilization target of 80 percent or approximately 65,200 TEUs has been set by the Cabinet Cluster on Port Congestion.

The yard utilization level at the Manila ports declined to 78 percent in end-November but went above the 80 percent target level due the Christmas season.

“We have brought down yard utilization to a more manageable level and if cargo owners and brokers fail to takeout their cargoes, our yards can easily fill up and we will be right back to congestion level,” Sta. Ana said.

The government is confident of fully decongesting the ports of Manila early next year after successfully reducing yard utilization rate to a little over 80 percent amid the influx of cargoes due to the run-up to Christmas.

After a total truck ban was imposed by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) along Roxas Boulevard starting December 3, the combined container gate outs from the two Manila ports went down by at least 10 percent to an average of 6,200 TEUs from an average of 7,000 TEUs.

The truck ban was implemented amid the Christmas holidays and to give way to the Papal visit, which is scheduled in January.

Trucks will be allowed to ply Roxas Boulevard from midnight to 5 a.m. starting December 17 to December 22.

Sta. Ana, meanwhile, said Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras is in talks with the MMDA and the Metro Manila Council to allow trucks to ply the Roxas Boulevard area beyond December 22.