Port users draw up proposals to ease congestion
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - November 24, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - An alliance of various associations of importers, exporters, and port service providers has drawn up a set of immediate and long-term proposals to address congestion and related problems at the Port of Manila.

The truck ban from February to September this year led to a buildup in cargo that has been easing only in recent weeks.

At The Ports Summit on Nov. 17 at the Manila Hotel, the Port Users’ Confederation hosted dialogue sessions between government officials and some 350 delegates that covered different aspects of operations at Manila and other major Philippine ports.

“The port stakeholders are now ready for the Nov. 27 conference on congestion,” says PUC president Col. Rodolfo de Ocampo, referring to the next ports meeting Thursday at the Diamond Hotel called by the Cabinet Cluster on Ports under Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras.

“We at PUC are very grateful to Secretary Almendras and the Cabinet Cluster for measures lessening the congestion,” said PUC chairwoman emeritus Noemi Saludo, adding “And we look forward to a productive dialogue and close collaboration with the Cabinet Cluster under Secretary Almendras.”

The Ports Summit’s proposals for immediate action include:

* Making current 24/7 truck routes permanent and establishing consultation mechanisms for future regulations.

* Designating truck lanes to eastern Metro Manila, for cargo going to the Marikina and Antipolo areas.

* Imposing a one-year moratorium on the required franchising of cargo trucks due to the current short supply.

* Revising Customs procedures for cargo alerts and seizures which cause container delays and abandonment.

* Rationalizing fees imposed by shipping lines, which should include all charges with cargo arrival notices.

* Accelerating the removal of empty or abandoned containers from the ports.

* Expediting a decision on a proposed NLEX-SLEX elevated expressway with connection to Port Area.

* Weekend hours for container x-ray, shipping lines representatives, and warehouse operations, to encourage more weekend cargo withdrawals.

The delegates, in plenary session, also approved other proposals for consideration by various government agencies, including:

* Reviewing and revising Customs regulations on implied abandonment to facilitate disposal of abandoned cargo, and on surcharges for allegedly undervalued shipments.

* Shortening truck ban hours to 6-9 a.m. and 5-9 p.m.

* Setting up a truck-holding area for trucks to park during truck-ban hours.

* Incentivizing the establishment and upgrading of facilities at Batangas and Subic, including warehouses and truck-holding areas.

* Working with private-sector stakeholders to developing a delivery-by-appointment system for container processing.

* Developing a container depot outside the Port of Manila, following the examples of Cebu, Davao, and Cagayan de Oro.

* Full implementation of Executive Order 172, which designates Batangas and Subic Ports as alternative gateways for handling volumes bound for areas outside Metro Manila.

* Finishing the 50-hectare reclamation project in Batangas.

* Developing a Vehicle Booking System that will determine which trucks will enter the ports, in order to control the number of trucks entering and leaving the ports.

* Revisiting the Philippine Ports Authority charter in order to provide it with more power and authority in supervising port operations, including managing and harmonizing government actions and implementation of laws, rules, and regulations regarding port and foreign shipping services.

* Creating a government agency to oversee, monitor, and regulate shipping lines, as the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines does for airlines.

* Requiring shipping lines to have their own container yards outside the ports for empty containers.



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