Tuesday, September 28, 2021
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BOC seeks to avoid port congestion with return of truck ban

  • Bureau of Customs coordinating with terminal operators and shipping lines to avert congestion at Manila ports with the re-imposition of the Metro Manila-wide truck ban
  • The Customs Container Control Division of each port will strictly ensure empty containers are loaded out, while assessment personnel must immediately process release of laden containers to prevent pileups at the port
  • From December 1 to 13, average yard utilization at Manila International Container Port was 75%

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is coordinating with terminal operators and shipping lines on averting the possible congestion of Manila ports now that the truck ban has been re-imposed in Metro Manila.

“To ensure the unhampered delivery of services and avoid possible port congestion, the Bureau is closely coordinating with shipping lines and terminal operators as our proactive role in averting the unlikely event of port congestion,” BOC Assessment and Operations Coordinating Group deputy commissioner Atty. Edward James Dy Buco said in a statement.

Dy Buco added that the Customs Container Control Division of each port has been directed to strictly ensure empty containers are loaded out, while all assessment offices personnel are instructed to immediately process the release of laden containers to prevent pileups at the port.

BOC said it is “optimistic amid the threat of port congestion in the resumption of the truck ban as the agency has been keeping the yard utilization rate within the desired level in alignment with the global standard rate which does not exceed 70%.”

It noted that from December 1 to December 13, average yard utilization at Manila International Container Port was at a manageable level of 75%.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on December 14 reinstated the truck ban on major thoroughfares in Metro Manila, including a total truck ban on Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) from Magallanes to North Avenue. This was made upon the request of Metro Manila mayors to alleviate the heavy traffic in the metropolis this holiday season.

READ: Metro Manila truck ban back starting Dec 14

The truck ban was suspended last March to allow the smooth flow of goods during the COVID-19 pandemic.

BOC noted that “while the reimposition may ease traffic flow in the meantime, this resulted to allegation from a group of truckers contesting that it would lead to different problems such as increased congestion.”

“As it has been long noted that the implementation of truck ban significantly constricts the flow of trade, the public does not only foresee traffic congestion but a repetition of the chaotic port situation that marred the years 2014 and 2018,” BOC stated.

READ: Truckers decry truck ban, fear further blow to struggling economy

Alliance of Concerned Truck Owners and Organizations (ACTOO) vice president Rina Papa earlier said that while not surprised the truck ban was re-implemented during the Christmas season, her group had hoped the “formula solution to old problems would be rethought, after all old formulae have long been proven to fail in the past.”

Papa noted that EDSA has had a truck ban since 1994, and the regulation “is one of the worst when it comes to traffic jams, pre-, during and post-strict lockdown policies.”

“We reiterate that solving the traffic situation with token and old solutions compromises the nation’s economy. And at this time when we are all yet to recover, this is very crucial,” she added.

The Confederation of Truckers Association of the Philippines (CTAP), in a position paper to MMDA dated December 14, said implementing the truck ban on major thoroughfares “is not the solution to the problem but [adds] more injury to our struggling national economy punctured by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

CTAP said the truck ban will result in transport gridlock for cargoes, and this will affect the country’s economy.

It added that the truck ban will “thwart not only the effort of the national government to promote sustainable mobility of container cargoes for the betterment of our national economy but will also paralyze the operation of various companies and container yard operators” in Metro Manila.

The group noted that more economic activity happens and the volume of import and export goods drastically increases during the Christmas season. Thus, more road network from North Luzon area and South Luzon area to the Port of Manila “is imperatively needed due to expected heavy volume of cargo that would exit and enter the port premises,” CTAP said.

Instead of a truck ban, CTAP is requesting a 24/7 single truck lane to and from north and south Luzon and on major strategic routes in Metro Manila except EDSA to “eventually minimize the volume and presence” of trucks on major roads in Metro Manila. – Roumina Pablo

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