Manila vice mayor defends truck ban

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - August 14, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno renewed yesterday his defense of the city government’s truck ban, scored by businessmen and some officials for disrupting commerce and worsening Metro Manila’s traffic problem.

“We want to address port congestion… We get the blame for the heavy traffic on C-5 Road, when it is not within (the jurisdiction of) Manila. We get blamed for the traffic even in Katipunan,” Moreno, whose real name is Francisco Domagoso, said during a Senate hearing on port congestion.

Moreno added that what the local government merely wants is orderly process of inbound and outbound truck operations within the areas surrounding the Port Area. He said heavy traffic caused by unimpeded truck operations is a greater anathema to business.

Moreno also slammed the claim of the truckers’ group led by former Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board chief Alberto Suansing that the massive congestion at the Port of Manila was caused by the truck ban.

He said Suansing was lying when he argued that port fees as well as prices of basic goods rose as a result of the ban.

“We are always being blamed for port congestion, economic slowdown, price hike, lost jobs, drivers. Traffic C-5, EDSA, Katipunan, they’re not in Manila,” Moreno added.

He said even the lack of supply of chicken of a popular fast food chain is being blamed on the Manila truck ban.

Lilia de Lima, director general of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, noted during yesterday’s hearing that 20,000 ecozone workers have been affected by temporary layoffs, reduced work weeks and forced leaves due to the port congestion.

De Lima reported that some companies have resorted to shipping by air, in effect increasing shipping cost up to five to 10 times more. Some companies have deferred their expansion plans in the country, she added.

Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, for his part, said the government is doing everything it can to address the problem caused by the port congestion in Manila.

Prior to the truck ban, Domingo reported that the Manila port was processing 5,000 to 6,000 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) daily in January this year alone.

“When trucks were unable to move out of the port because they are not processed, the processing was reduced to 3,500 TEUs/day,” Domingo said.

Domingo said the North and South Harbors have reached their designated capacity so “any wrinkle actually causes ingestion due to the truck ban.” But he stressed there are improvements.

“We need to prevent kinks everyday… because every time we have a one-day delay, caused by storm, action by truckers or changes in the rules, (it) will cause another congestion of another three to seven days,” Domingo said.

Limited road capacity

Christian Martin Gonzalez, chairman and president of the International Container Terminal Services Inc., said limited road capacity was compounding the problem.

“What drives the capacity in Manila is the limitation on the road… despite the best intentions of everyone in bringing the traffic down,” Gonzalez said.

The ICTSI is eyeing the rehabilitation of railways from Tutuban in Manila to Calamba, Laguna so that these can be used to transport container vans to the areas in the Southern Tagalog region, officials noted.

Winston Ginez, chairman of the LTFRB, cited the anti-colorum campaign of the agency in addressing truck concern issues. Senators slammed Ginez over the issuance of provisional authorities for trucks which ply Metro Manila’s streets without permits.

Sen. Bam Aquino, chairman of the Senate trade committee, said the Senate would conduct another inquiry to determine if there would be positive developments that would arise from the implementation of continuous operations at the port during weekends for the next four weeks.

“The City of Manila is already doing a lot in terms of changing the regulations,” Aquino said after the hearing.

Aquino recognized the need for government to implement long-term solution to solve the port congestion problem – a recommendation also aired by Doris Magsaysay-Ho, president and chief executive officer of the Magsaysay Maritime Corp.

Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, meanwhile, said representatives of the Department of Transportation and Communications, Department of Public Works and Highways, National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture should be summoned to the next hearing.

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