The Alliance of Truckers and Customs Brokers has temporarily suspended its April 1 protest plan that would have stopped its members from accepting and delivering containers of four international shipping lines.
Composed of Haulers and Truckers Association in the Waterfront, Inc., Aduana Business Club, Inc., Inland Haulers and Truckers Association, and Professional Customs Brokers Association of the Philippines, the Alliance announced the suspension of the planned protest action in a March 27 advisory and through a letter sent to Customs commissioner Isidro Lapeña on March 28.
The group earlier threatened to stop accepting and delivering cargoes of APL/CMA CGM, Hyundai, TS Lines, and Wan Hai starting April 1 to highlight continued delays in the return of empty containers, a long-standing issue between truckers and foreign carriers.
The suspension of the protest plan “could only mean that the door for a constructive dialogue is now open and should remain as such,” said Association of International Shipping Lines (AISL) general manager Atty. Maximino Cruz in a March 28 email to PortCalls.
He noted that coming to any kind of solution could “sometimes be a long and tedious process” but that he believes in positive results when there’s “sincerity and credibility” among those taking part in the discussions.
Long term, he said the “underlying problem” is the “infrastructural aspect of more empty depot facilities. Addressing this problem would require the involvement of all stakeholders. Unless this can be effectively resolved, everything else are mere palliatives.”
The suspension of protest plan, the truckers noted, is due to the intervention of Lapeña–who met with truckers and AISL officials on March 20–and is in the “interest of the general public” and for the “orderly and smooth operation of the transport sector”.
The suspension was also in consideration of the “favorable advisory by the AISL General Manager on 27 March 2018.”
In the said advisory, AISL’s Cruz requested AISL member lines to “immediately implement the agreements” arrived at during a special general membership meeting on March 19.
Two measures were agreed upon at that meeting attended by AISL members, Manila port operators, container yard (CY) operators, and officials of the Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc.
The first measure requires shipping lines to indicate the designated CY, regardless of its location, in the container release order.
The second measure stops the levy of the detention charge if the designated CY refuses to accept an empty container that arrived on schedule. The mechanism and guidelines for proving that the empty container was not accepted by the CY will be drawn up by the truckers.
“As has been alleged in the past, depots refuse to acknowledge in writing the arrival of the empty containers when the CY facility is full even when the empty containers are returned within the detention freetime,” Cruz had told shipping lines.
He noted that during the March 20 meeting with Lapeña, the customs chief suggested the signing of a memorandum of agreement between truckers and AISL “to spell out finer details of the two agreed measures.”
Pending the MOA, Cruz had asked member liners to immediately implement the two measures. – Roumina Pablo