Home » Exclusives, Maritime, Ports/Terminals » ARTA seeks PPA comment on berthing rule adopted sans consultation

The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) has asked the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to comment on port operator Manila North Harbour Port, Inc.’s (MNHPI) decision to implement a new berthing guideline allegedly “without proper consultation with stakeholders.”

The query is contained in a letter signed by ARTA Legal and Public Assistance Office officer-in-charge director Atty. Janalyn Gainza-Tang to PPA general manager Atty. Jay Daniel Santiago dated June 10.

The MNHPI advisory dated June 8 and signed by MNHPI general manager Romeo Salvador states that starting June 22 all container vessels calling North Port will have to berth at Terminal 1. As a consequence, domestic ships will need to use the quay cranes in Terminal 1 and pay cranage fees.

READ: Container ships calling North Port must use Terminal 1 from June 22

The ARTA query was welcomed by the Supply Chain Management Association of the Philippines (SCMAP).

“We hope that this action would lead to the deferment of the implementation of this new policy, which will burden cargo owners—and ultimately, end consumers—with additional costs without consulting stakeholders who will be affected by it,” SCMAP said in a statement sent to PortCalls on June 19.

The MNHPI policy is in “compliance to government regulations on strict social/physical distancing while ensuring the unhampered delivery of port services”, and is in line with the port modernization program agreed between PPA and MNHPI, according to Salvador. The port operator in 2010 won a 25-year concession to modernize and operate North Port.

“The use of quay cranes is a standard global best practice for container terminals and the most socially distant form of terminal handling,” Salvador pointed out.

Gainza-Tang noted that the request for comment is in keeping with ARTA’s mandate under Republic Act No. 11032, or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018.

PPA has three working days from receipt of the ARTA letter to respond.

“Your response shall form part of the records of the Authority and shall be determinative of the Authority’s next course of action,” Gainza-Tang told PPA.

PPA Port Management Office-National Capital Region North port manager Annie Lee Manese, in an email to PortCalls on June 19, said the ports authority already submitted its reply to ARTA but did not elaborate.

Prior to the new policy, domestic shipping lines calling North Port have the option to use lift-on/lift-off (Lo-Lo) berths served by gangs, a group of cargo workers employed by stevedoring companies to work the ships.

Domestic shipping lines predominantly operate ships that are fitted with their own gears that do not necessarily require the service of quay cranes. Domestic shipping lines call ports that are still not equipped with quay cranes, thus, the use of ships with own gears.

MNHPI said priority of berthing in Terminal 1 will generally be based on compliance to the port’s berthing requirements/guidelines.

Roll-on/roll-off vessels, breakbulk vessels, and container vessels carrying significant breakbulk cargoes will be served at Terminal 2.

Current PPA-approved cranage rates for full and empty containers and other port charges apply to crane operations at Terminal 1. Cargo owners may pay directly to MNHPI.

According to PPA Memorandum Circular No. 18-2018, cranage rates at North Port are P1,417 per loaded 20-footer and below and P1,982 per container above 20-footer. For empty containers, cranage rate for 20-footer and below is P1,191.50 and P1,535.50 for those above 20-footer.

Philippine Liner Shipping Association (PLSA) president Mark Matthew Parco earlier said acknowledged that the use of quay cranes “can improve productivity and ease the port congestion” but the situation would compel shipping lines to pass on the cranage cost to customers.

Parco said shipping lines need to conserve cash so they would rather go for the lowest cost option, which in this case is use of LoLo berths. Domestic shipping lines have been heavily affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, with cargo volumes dropping at 70%.

After community quarantines in the country are lifted, estimates point to cargo traffic being only 50-70% of pre-COVID-19 levels. – Roumina Pablo

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