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Cebu container pullout order exempts domestic port transfers

  • Pullout of containers from the Cebu International Container Port for transfer to domestic baseports and container yards within the port zone may be conducted any time of the day, according to revised Cebu provincial government order
  • This is a departure from an earlier executive order limiting all cargo pullout at CIP to nighttime only
  • Port stakeholders expect delays, an increase in trucking rates and congestion once the truck ban and the new container pullout schedule are enforced
  • Philippine Multimodal Transport and Logistics Association, Inc.-Cebu seeks a meeting to discuss policy, while Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc.-Cebu eyes exemption from the container pullout rule

Containers for transfer to domestic baseports and container yards located within the Cebu port zone may now pull out from Cebu International Port (CIP) any time of the day, according to a new order from the Cebu provincial government.

This exemption is contained in Executive Order (EO) 2-A signed by Cebu governor Gwendolyn Garcia on January 15. EO 2-A revises EO No. 2 series of 2021, which limits cargo pullout at CIP to nighttime only.

READ: It’s a go for Jan 15 Cebu truck bans, port nighttime cargo release

EO 2, issued on January 13, ordered cargo releasing and pullout at CIP to be carried out at nighttime only, from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., starting January 15 to alleviate daytime traffic on roads leading to the pier.

It also implemented a truck ban in the municipalities of Consolacion and Liloan from 5:00 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The measure was issued because “there is an urgent need to decongest” CIP during peak hours to alleviate heavy traffic in affected areas.”

The EO noted that truck and cargo vehicles usually converge at the CIP during the release of their cargoes, clogging roads leading to the pier area and “causing a ripple effect on the traffic situation all the way to the Municipality of Consolacion and the Municipality of Liloan.”

Delays, congestion feared

Port stakeholders are anticipating delays with the implementation of the truck ban and the new container pullout schedule.

Philippine Multimodal Transport and Logistics Association, Inc.-Cebu (PMTLAI-Cebu) president Elaine Nolasco, in an email to PortCalls, said they expect delays in withdrawal of containers as the window provided by EO 2 to release and withdraw import containers is shorter than the previous 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

She noted, however, that the policy is “a work in progress,” as pointed out by the Cebu governor during a meeting with stakeholders, so “there might still be changes as other sectors are still seeking audience with the governor to present their requests for consideration.”

Nolasco said PMTLAI-Cebu will seek a separate meeting with the governor to present their situation for evaluation by the provincial government.

Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc.-Cebu president Rami Hourani, in an email to PortCalls, said they also “hope to work with the Governor to carve out exemptions for exporters to preserve their competitiveness.”

He noted, however, that “the Governor made her stance clear though. She refused to grant any exemptions at the inception of the policy.”

Hourani said the policy affects exporters as they also often simultaneously import and export.

“Exporters are anxious about the simultaneous implementation of a truck ban across multiple LGUs [local government units] and the imposition of the E-TRACC [Electronic Tracking of Containerized Cargo] system (of the Bureau of Customs) that is in the early stages of being rolled out. The two together could lead to port congestion,” he continued.

He explained that both measures serve to complicate the process of removing a container from the port. “This could lead to delays in the procurement of containers and late shipments,” Hourani said.

E-TRACC, a system for tracking cargoes launched by the BOC last year, requires the outfitting of an electronic customs seal during the transfer of cargo from the port to container yards or other customs territories and facilities.

Costs to increase

Hourani said the new cargo pullout schedule “will definitely affect exporters because they will be forced to allocate more man hours to non-daytime work,” which can lead to increased cost due to night shift differential and overtime pay.

Asked if they expect an increase in trucking rates, Hourani said that if the cost of doing business for truckers in Cebu goes up, naturally, “they would raise their prices.”

“This cost will wind up being passed on to the exporters who are forced to compete globally and may become less competitive as a result,” he noted.

Moreover, the limited container pullout time, coupled with the truck bans, “will most definitely cause an increase [in] yard usage.”

Cebu Port Authority (CPA) general manager Leonilo Miole earlier said congestion at Cebu Port may be expected during the truck ban implementation. “As to the magnitude of the congestion, we still have to wait and see.”

On other options that can alleviate traffic without affecting the flow of trade, Hourani said “perhaps a queuing system could be put in a Memorandum of Agreement between the CIP and the Province of Cebu [so] as to spread out the instances of the pull out of a container over the day.”

He noted that while this would still disrupt business, it would also divert a good number of the containers to times when they would not cause traffic.

“This, combined with reasonable restrictions on the use of private vehicles and public transport, would be a more holistic approach.”

Hourani further pointed out that traffic “should be attributed to the sum of all the vehicles on the road and not merely to the trucks,” and that a plan to address traffic should “attempt to spread the burden of regulation to all stakeholders instead of dropping it on trucks.”

Philippine Liner Shipping Association president Mark Parco said the impact of the pullout schedule on domestic containers “remains unclear” since the “truck ban clearly controls the release of international containers.”

He pointed out that “supply chain is a network”, and that “if there is a buildup or a block in one sector or area then there is likelihood it will impact the entire network. The actual impact still remains to be seen as I am sure the authorities will implement measure to reduce any congestion.”

He said the Cebu provincial government is planning another round of consultations with stakeholders on January 20. – Roumina Pablo

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