PPA expects recovery in cargo traffic this year
Cargo volume fell to 230.43 million metric tons last year from 266.42 MMT in 2019, PPA general manager Jay Santiago said in a virtual briefing.
Edd Gumban, file

PPA expects recovery in cargo traffic this year

Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) - March 5, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) expects a recovery in cargo traffic this year after volume plunged by 13.5 percent last year, but its return to pre-pandemic levels is not seen in the short-term.

Cargo volume fell to 230.43 million metric tons (MMT) last year from 266.42 MMT in 2019, PPA general manager Jay Santiago said in a virtual briefing.

Santiago said most of the decline was recorded in the ports of Manila.

“This is expected as 85 percent of the total cargo volume in the country passed through the ports of Manila, which is composed of the South Harbor, Manila International Container Terminal and the North Port,” he said.

“However, it is interesting to note that PPA’s other port clusters, namely Southern Luzon, Visayas and Southern Mindanao clusters, posted minimal decreases while the Northern Mindanao cluster posted a positive deviation amid the pandemic. This is a very good indication that the economy is doing just fine and can easily rebound to pre-COVID 19 levels once we roll out our vaccination program as such could get investor confidence in our supply chain,” Santiago said.

Ports nationwide have remained open amid the pandemic to service the needs of the country, particularly in the delivery of essential products to various island destinations.

For 2022 and 2023, PPA’s growth forecast for cargo volume is conservative at between one and three percent.

Santiago said it would take quite some time for cargo volume to return to pre-pandemic levels.

He said until movement of people and cargoes ease up, it would be difficult for cargo traffic to go back to pre-COVID-19 levels.

“The main driver of our cargo traffic is mainly consumption. The moment consumption in the economy grows, this will increase the volume of cargoes,” Santiago said.

“So in the meantime that we have yet to see the easing up of movement, we are very conservative, although we are optimistic, we are optimistically conservative on our cargo traffic trend,” he said.

Meanwhile, passenger volume also plummeted last year to 24.79 million from 83.72 million in 2019, according to the PPA.

“In terms of passenger traffic, there is no great figure to report as passenger traffic declined by 70 percent for 2020 as only those authorized persons outside residence, returning overseas Filipinos, international going seafarers, and overseas Filipino workers were allowed to board our vessels,” Santiago said.

“Our ports in Southern Luzon and Visayas posted the biggest losses brought about by the pandemic. As such, the authority doubts that volume will pick up immediately even with the new IATF directive of movement,” he said.

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