The Cebu Port Authority (CPA) is deferring until October 1, 2021 the 5% increase in cargo-handling charges for foreign cargoes at the Port of Cebu to ease the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the business sector.
The deferment was approved by the Cebu Port Commission in CPA Resolution No. 833-2020.
The 5% hike is the second tranche of the 10% across-the-board increase in foreign cargo-handling tariff—excluding cement, iron, and steel products—under CPA Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 12-2019 issued last year.
The first tranche was implemented in October 2019, while the second tranche was set for implementation on October 19, 2020.
“The deferment of the increase is one of the initiatives and interventions of the CPA with our partner cargo-handling service provider, Oriental Port and Allied Services Corporation (OPASCOR) to help aid the income losses due to the operational and travel restrictions brought by COVID-19 to the maritime sector,” said CPA general manager Leonilo Miole.
“This is good news for all our shipping liners, exporters, importers, logistics providers and other port stakeholders,” he added.
OPASCOR operates Cebu International Port, which handles foreign cargoes at the Port of Cebu.
As of August 2020, all ports managed by CPA have handled a total of 39.209 million metric tons (MT) of cargoes, of which 23.45% or 9.214 million MT are foreign cargoes.
Aside from the deferment, CPA last May suspended the payment of berthing and anchorage fees for domestic vessels on hold departure, as well as fees/rentals for areas and spaces inside passenger terminal buildings.
Miole earlier said cargo volumes in Cebu ports declined in the first seven months of 2020 as an effect of the pandemic.
Despite this, CPA is pushing through with construction of a new finger pier at the Cebu base port, to be called Pier 5, which will cater exclusively to domestic cargoes. The CPA chief noted that volumes had been increasing prior to the pandemic, and the new pier will be in preparation for the return of volumes to normal levels.
The 155-meter-long Pier 5 will have a project cost of P510 million, to be funded internally by CPA.
Construction is expected to start in October and be completed by December 2021.
Miole said Pier 5 could accommodate three to four vessels at any given time.
Meanwhile, consultancy works for the P10.1-billion New Cebu International Container Port (NCICP) project is ongoing and construction is expected to start next year.
The NCICP will be built on a 25-hectare reclaimed piece of land in the town of Consolacion in Cebu. Once completed, NCICP will be the main international port of Cebu, and the existing base port in Cebu City will be converted into a pure domestic terminal, Miole said earlier.
In June 2018, the Philippines and South Korea’s Export Import Bank of Korea signed a US$172.64 million (P8.8 billion) loan agreement for the construction of the new international terminal.
The Philippines will provide a counterpart fund of $26.09 million (about P1.4 billion) for the project.
The new international terminal is seen as the long-term solution to the growing volumes handled at Cebu International Port, the current base port. It will also enhance the transport infrastructure system and facilitate the flow of goods and services in the Visayas region. – Roumina Pablo