Shipping lines, freight forwarding companies, and container depots remain operational, though experiencing difficulties, during the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The Association of International Shipping Lines (AISL) and Philippine Ship Agents Association (PSAA) dispelled rumors that shipping line offices are closed and assured stakeholders they remain ready to serve.
“Contrary to rumors that shipping lines offices are closed, we want to assure the public that shipping lines are ready to serve,” AISL said in a statement.
PSAA, in a text message to PortCalls, also said its member companies are still operating.
Luzon has been placed under community quarantine from March 17 to April 13 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Cargo movement should remain unhampered during this period, according to the Memorandum dated March 15 of the Executive Secrtary.
AISL noted that mobility “is severely restricted” due to the suspension of public transport operations, the overlapping of local government unit regulations, and the complete lockdown declared by several cities in Metro Manila.
“Notwithstanding, shipping lines are finding ways and means to ensure continuity of services. A work from home arrangement has been put in place and we encourage the public to access the shipping lines website and/or closely coordinate with the concerned shipping lines frontline staff,” AISL said.
“Amid the huge constraints that have significantly affected shipping lines operations, shipping lines will not renege on its responsibility to customers,” the group added.
Philippine Multimodal Transport and Logistics Association (PMTLAI) president Marilyn Alberto, in a text message to PortCalls, said member forwarders are still operating but that it’s “frustrating” because while cargo movement should be unhampered during the enhanced community quarantine, some checkpoints have a different interpretation of the policy.
In a statement to members on March 18, Alberto said the group is “very much aware of the fact that our trucks are being stopped at the checkpoints and we are facing difficulties in moving our shipments despite the IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases] announcement that cargo movements, especially those for export /import, will not be hampered.”
Alberto said PMTLAI is in constant communication with the Department of Trade and Industry and is reporting all the challenges faced by members. She noted that DTI is making a summary of reports and will send it to the IATF and related government agencies.
“We just have to be more patient. Our government is trying its best to handle a situation that is very difficult and very new to us. We cannot expect perfect execution of all policies overnight,” Alberto said.
Container Depot Association of the Philippines (CDAP) president Roger Torres, in a text message to PortCalls, said a members’ container yards are still operating “but some of our depots are operating on a shortened time” while some are already full.
Torres noted that some workers are not able to make it to work due to the suspension of public transportation as some live outside Metro Manila.
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) earlier encouraged banks, arrastre and airport operators, shipping lines, airlines, and other logistics service providers to continue providing services even on a skeletal workforce or online.
“The support and continuous services of the said groups is vital in order to facilitate the shipments of basic and essential goods such as food and medical supplies that are coming in the country for distribution to the market,” BOC said in a statement.
BOC noted that the agency “remains open and operational to ensure the flow of goods and meet the daily demands of the public” while Luzon is under enhanced community quarantine. – Roumina Pablo