Manila’s expanded truck ban policy may cause more serious damage to the economy when the volume of trucks using the city’s ports picks up in the next two months, unless better and more inclusive solutions are found now, foreign businesses and electronics manufacturers warn.
The Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) and the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries of the Philippines Inc. (SEIPI), in a joint statement on April 6, are urging roundtable talks with all concerned parties to work out a solution that ensures more efficient use of the Manila ports and better utilization of those in Batangas and Subic.
The two groups in particular recommended adoption of an appointment system for trucks visiting the ports to better manage vehicular traffic in Manila’s streets.
“Based on discussions we have had with some stakeholders, we firmly believe that a steady, well-managed flow of trucks with an effective appointment system will create less traffic disruption, will allow a more effective use of the port facilities and will maintain related cost at a reasonable level flow of imports and exports going,” the groups said.
The JFC and SEIPI proposed that instead of what it said were ongoing discussions between individual stakeholders and individual affected parties, “an inclusive stakeholders’ roundtable” should be held to assess the magnitude and complexity of the issue.
From such discussions, they should “develop short, mid-term, and long-term solutions for the Manila port and the usage of the ports of Batangas and Subic,” the groups explained.
“The business community is of the opinion that such roundtable should be headed by the national government, preferably a senior Cabinet member, to drive the search for solutions and see to it that those are implemented. In our opinion that inclusive roundtable should take place now, before the trade volume picks up in a month or two, which will aggravate the logistics situation,” the JFC-SEIPI stressed.
Stakeholders to be invited to the dialogue should include the port operators; shipping lines; truckers; local government units of Manila, Caloocan, and Parañaque; Department of Public Works and Highways; Department of Transportation and Communications; Metro Manila Development Authority; National Housing Authority; Philippine Ports Authority; Philippine Economic Zone Authority; Bureau of Customs; and foreign and local chambers.
The truck ban policy being implemented in Manila prohibits eight-wheeler trucks and vehicles with a gross weight of above 4,500 kilos from plying the city’s streets between 5am and 9pm. Temporary concession was offered by City Hall allowing trucks to ply streets between 10am and 5pm during the next six months.
As a result, trucking firms have hiked their respective hauling charges by an average of 50 percent, a move that may redound to higher cost of goods for the end-consumers.
Truck operators are now being probed by the Department of Trade and Industry for possible collusion and anti-competitive practices.
Other business groups such as the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, the Federation of Philippines Industries (FPI), and the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GPCCI) have since warned the government that the expanded daytime truck ban would only cripple businesses and likely result in a cut in the growth of exports and production, job losses and potential company closures.
The ECCP has put forward seven solutions to address the logistics problem at the Manila port, including the elimination of an all truck-delivery bans completely and the formulation of a proper, coordinated, and efficient 24-hour truck route regulation system; removal of empty containers from the port are; and extension of the working hours of Customs to 24/7, among others.
(Solutions to the Manila truck ban problem, among other transport industry concerns, will be tackled at the Transport Summit 2014 on April 22 at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza. The summit themed “Removing Barriers to Cargo Transportation and Customs” is being organized by the Philippine International Seafreight Forwarders Association with PortCalls. For summit information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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