No port congestion this year


MANILA, Philippines – There will be no repeat of the port congestion that delayed shipments to Metro Manila and resulted in price hikes for the past two years during Christmas season, officials said yesterday.

“We do not see that happening this year,” Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon said in a phone interview.

Jay Daniel Santiago, the general manager of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), agreed. “We are not expecting port congestion as of the moment,” he told reporters.

As of yesterday, Port of Manila and Manila International Container Port (MICP) recorded an average yard utilization of 68 percent, far from over 90 percent recorded in 2014 and early 2015.

The two ports, the largest in the country, got clogged with shipments as a result of Manila’s truck ban in February 2014 that prevented deliveries from plying the capital’s roads.

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, who imposed the expanded prohibition to address heavy traffic, lifted the ban in September 2014, but it was not until March last year that congestion eased

“This time we are seeing very effective movements of shipments. It is averaging 25 to 30 moves per hour compared with just 10 during the congestion,” Santiago said.

Outside the ports, he said the “no-window policy” for vehicle coding that began this week could also help ease shipment deliveries.

For Faeldon, “reforms” undertaken may have contributed to better port facilitation, without giving specifics. He said this gave Customs more revenues for the holidays.

Preliminary data showed revenue collections rose 3.98 percent year-on-year to P33.002 billion in September. This was however 7.79-percent below the P35.79-billion goal.

The bureau, in a statement, said revenues are still “expected to increase upon the finalization of the report.”

“I am not sure if that (collections) included already the increased demand for Christmas. But definitely, we could see that there is an upward trend,” Faeldon said.

Of the 17 collection districts, six beat their revenue targets for September namely the ports of Clark in Pampanga, Iloilo, Zamboanga, Cebu, Davao and Batangas.

MICP, meanwhile, collected P10.583 billion, just a little behind its P10.601-billion target for the month, figures showed.

“This does not include yet the effect of weak peso since these shipments were booked early on,” Faeldon said.

The currency has slumped against the dollar around four percent last month. A weak peso makes imports more expensive, translating to higher base for Customs valuations.

Santiago said only “perishables” forming holiday demand for food and other items are expected to come in over the last three months.

Sought for comment, Sergio Ortiz-Luis, president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation, echoed the government’s view.

“There are some improvement making it (port congestion) not so bad this year. There still is, but not of similar magnitude than before,” Ortiz-Luis said by phone.

“Hopefully, the situation will remain the same even with the influx of more shipments,” he added.


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