An informal survey carried out by PortCalls found that 35% of 88 stakeholders who responded to the poll were in favor of the truck ban. But the respondents were split almost equally on whether they believe container trucks are causing Manila’s notorious traffic jams.
Those in favor of the ban were outstripped by opposition among importers/exporters, manufacturers, cargo service and brokerage providers who returned the survey, taken March 11 at a Philippine International Seafreight Forwarders Association (PISFA)- PortCalls public forum at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza.
The proportion of respondents backing the ban surprised some observers who said the survey result could strengthen Mayor Joseph Estrada’s resolve to continue with the ban despite complaints and warnings from various sectors.
“Now Estrada will have all the more reason to push the ban, saying people are relieved at the improved traffic flow,” one observer told PortCalls.
Some 49.9% of the respondents saw Manila’s gridlock stemming from container trucks delivering or picking up cargoes at the ports, a hairline less than the 50.1% who blame the congestion on other factors.
The truck ban, imposed starting Feb. 24 by the Manila city government, drew protests from all sectors affected, with truckers staging a three-day long strike that left the city’s international cargo ports bursting at the seams with containerized cargoes.
The chaos at the ports and its paralyzing effect on trade led some survey respondents to call the truck ban an economic bane.
“The daytime tuck ban caused some delay in our exportations and importations, additional trucking charges and so many big adjustments in production planning,” commented one of the survey respondents who indicated he was in the import/export and manufacturing business.
Some wondered what drove Estrada to implement the ban. “Manila is the center of business so we cannot understand why several years have passed but only Erap decided to have a daytime truck ban,” said an exporter.
Nevertheless, many seemed happy with the ban, saying it “minimizes traffic congestion in Manila”. Another respondent suggested a “more strong truck ban for future Manila dream/vision. Please never no go with truck company”.
Other ban supporters simply put the blame on “undisciplined truck drivers parking just anywhere” and “not obeying traffic rules”, frustration that boil down to a lack of enforcement as the culprit.
Asked about the ban’s impact on their revenues, the respondents cited a range from as low as 2% to as high as 100%.
In terms of delivery volumes, the impact of the ban and the resultant truck queuing at the ports meant a 10% to 100% decline, the survey results showed.
The impact in terms of delivery hours ranged from 5 hours to 48 hours.
Man-hours lost as a result of the chaos were between 5 and 25 hours.
Not everyone suffered losses, though. A respondent in the import/export business noted a 2% gain in revenue, while another in cargo services cited a 5% increase.
The same import/export player indicated delivery volume increased 3%, delivery time saved was 1 hour per day, and man-hour saved was 4 per day.
The cargo services player said he saved working time on in-bound cargoes in his warehouse, but was considering moving to Batangas or Subic because of the increase in in-bound tariff rate and increased leadtime to more cargoes in Manila.
As for what they perceive as a better alternative to the truck ban to improve traffic flows, 35 respondents or 40% of the total favored a dedicated port access road; 28 respondents or 31.75% wanted a 24/7 single truck lane; only three or 3.35% favored truck port visits by appointment.
A notable 18 respondents of 20.4% wanted government to regulate the number of private vehicles on the road, with some respondents blaming these vehicles for the road congestion.
As frustration grew over the effects on the truck ban on their businesses, 32 respondents or 36.3% said they were considering moving to Batangas and Subic while 15 players or 17% said they would stay in Manila. A total of 21 manufacturers and cargo services players or 23.8% answered “maybe.”
Of the 88 respondents, 39 were from the import/export sector, 20 from cargo services, 16 from manufacturing, 2 from brokerage and one each from distribution and trucking. – Vir Lumicao