Home » Ports/Terminals » South Harbor, MICT truckers impose fuel surcharge

TRUCKERS servicing the South Harbor and the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) are now collecting a P1,000 fuel surcharge for every twenty-equivalent unit they carry in and out of the two terminals.

The surcharge is meant to recover additional cost due to higher fuel expenses and overtime pay of workers as a result of the lingering port congestion. It will remain in place until the port jam is addressed.

Truckers — mostly members of the Confederation of Truckers Association of the Philippines (CTAP) and the Alliance of Concerned Truck Owners and Operators — have been billing the fuel surcharge on a per-client basis since November but decided to apply the fee unilaterally after waiting time for trucks in South Harbor and MICT doubled in the last month or so.

Trucks going into the port are now waiting anywhere from five to eight hours before unloading and the same amount of time for loading. This compares to three hours for both loading and unloading during normal conditions.

The wait is even longer if empty containers are diverted to container yards outside Manila. The three container yards adjacent to the Manila ports are now all full. A check by PortCalls on the facilities showed containers being stacked up to seven high, two more than the allowed five.

“The effect of the congestion has been really huge and truckers have no choice but to impose a cost-recovery measure to cushion effects of the problem on our operations,” CTAP president Ruperto Bayocot told PortCalls.

“The hike is too small to cover our fuel expenses, still it will be some sort of a relief while waiting for the solution being crafted by government and the terminal operators,” he explained.

The surcharge is separate from the planned regular rate increase announced by CTAP late last month.

The price of diesel, the fuel commonly used by trucks, has increased from P30 to P32 per liter two months ago to the current P37 per liter.

Port users began feeling the effects of congestion in August due to the strong import volume. The condition was further aggravated when MICT’s automated gate clearance system bogged down. The slow electronic-to-mobile system of the Bureau of Customs — largely due to the migration from Phase 3 to Phase 4 — has also been blamed for the congestion, with some shippers reportedly having difficulty complying with requirements of the new system.

Feeder operator Regional Container Lines (RCL) has decided to temporarily call at Batangas port starting last weekend until the situation normalizes.

PortCalls sources said three or four other international container shipping lines are closely following what they call the “RCL experiment”. If it succeeds, those lines may also temporarily head to Batangas.

As it is, the general sentiment in the international container shipping community is that the port jam will linger until the first quarter of next year.

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