The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has extended for another month the temporary arrangement of assigning vessels calling the Port of Manila to particular berths, a situation brought about by the port congestion.
In a letter to the Association of International Shipping Lines, PPA general manager Atty. Juan Sta. Ana said the validity of PPA Memorandum Circular No. 16-2014 is extended until December 31, 2014.
MC No. 16-2014 was issued by the agency on November 3 as one of its measures to decongest the Port of Manila. The memo prescribes temporary arrangements in assigning berths to vessels to “ensure the efficient and orderly utilization of available and existing berths at the Port of Manila (Manila International Container Terminal [MICT]/ South Harbor) and Subic Bay Freeport.”
The move is in line with PPA’s mandate under Executive Order No. 172 designating the ports of Subic and Batangas as extension ports of Manila during times of emergency and congestion, as well as under Presidential Decree No. 857, which empowers the port authority to adopt measures to remedy port congestion.
Under MC No. 16-2014, all ad-hoc vessels calling at the Port of Manila, including those in queue, will be berthed at the South Harbor or Subic port. Ad-hoc vessels are carriers designated or instructed to call at the Manila port for a specific purpose rather than on a regular basis.
A dual-call vessel, on the other hand, will be directed upon arrival at the pilot boarding station to berth at either the South Harbor or MICT. A dual caller is a ship whose ports of loading and unloading are both South Harbor and MICT. A PortCalls source said some shipping lines have already stopped dual calling, preferring to call at one terminal instead. Due to congestion, vessels have supposedly experienced waiting at anchorage for more than 20 days.
PortCalls sources said the number of vessels lined up at anchorage at MICT last week was around 12 while the queue at the South Harbor was three vessels.
The guidelines for when to declare a port as congested or under emergency cases are being drafted by PPA. The Bureau of Customs is also coming out with its own set of rules in cases of vessel diversion. – Roumina Pablo