Home » Breaking News, Maritime, Ports/Terminals » High pilotage fees push PH lines to drop Cotabato calls

PHILIPPINE cargo carriers will cease services to and from Polloc Port (Port of Cotabato) as early as next week due to allegedly exorbitant and arbitrary fees levied by harbor pilots stationed at the port., located on the island grouping of Mindanao.

ATS Consolidated, Inc (formerly Aboitiz Transport System), Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp (formerly Sulpicio Lines), and Lorenzo Shipping Corp said they are being charged pilotage fees when no actual service is rendered.

The operators said their services to Polloc will stop after all cargoes booked for November are delivered. Cargoes for Cotabato will continue to be accepted but these will be dropped at the Makar Wharf at the Port of General Santos, also in Mindanao, or other nearby ports for delivery by truck to Cotabato port.

The Port of Cotabato is one of Mindanao’s major secondary ports, handling about 100 containers a month.

“We have no choice but to drop calls from the Port of Cotabato due to the high cost of pilotage,” a source, who requested anonymity, told PortCalls.

“Unless government satisfactorily addresses our concerns regarding the pilotage fee, we will not call at the said port. This will result in higher logistical cost that will be shouldered by shippers from the province,” the source added.

Harbor pilots at the Port of Cotabato charge P13,000 for 500 to 3,000 gross tons (GT) vessels; P17,000 for vessels above 3,000 GT up to 7,000 GT; and P29,000 for vessels above 7,000 GT. The rates are levied without the help of a tug, mandatory under Executive Order (EO) number 1088.

The EO’s approved tug rate is P300 per move or a total of P600 (embarkation and disembarkation) per vessel. However, the EO does not provide guidelines on how to charge vessels which, according to vessel operators, is subject to abuse.

Aside from local vessel operators, members of the Philippine Ship Agents Association are complaining of supposedly exorbitant fees charged by the United Harbor Pilots Association of the Philippines.

There are moves at the House of Representatives to create a law on pilotage. Local liner operators are pushing for optional pilot/tug assistance due to familiarity with ports they call. Mandatory pilot/tug assistance is eyed for foreign lines.

Pilots Boat by Bill Longshaw

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