NextIX and Shiptek joint venture is lone bidder for PPA container monitoring project

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PPPA container monitoring project
The bidding for the Philippine Ports Authority container monitoring project pushed through despite calls for it to stop by a group of customs brokers and truckers. Image by The_GADman from Pixabay
  • The joint venture of NextIX and Shiptek Solutions emerged as the lone bidder for a Philippine Ports Authority project that will monitor movement of import containers
  • The venture put in a P877.6 million bid for the Trusted Operator Program-Container Registry and Monitoring System and Empty Container Storage Shared Service Facility project
  • Pre-bidding initially attracted five other companies
  • An alliance of trucking and customs brokers groups wanted to stop the bidding pending resolution of all stakeholder issues

From an initial list of six companies, only one eventually bid for the Philippine Ports Authority’s (PPA) project designed to monitor movement of import containers.

The joint venture of NextIX Inc. and Shiptek Solutions Corp. put in a bid of P877.6 million during the opening of bids on March 22.

Philippine company NextIX specializes in universally available information and communication technology solutions. The company, together with a joint venture partner, also earlier won the contract for PPA’s electronic terminal management system with unified ticketing capabilities.

Shiptek is a Filipino software development company with an end-to-end digital logistics platform, XLOG.

The pre-bid conference for the Trusted Operator Program-Container Registry and Monitoring System (TOP-CRMS) and Empty Container Storage Shared Service Facility (ECSSSF) initially attracted five other entities: Ascent Solutions Philippines, Inc., Association of International Shipping Lines (AISL), Filmetrics Corp., Gothong Southern Supply Chain, Inc. and Omniprime Marketing Inc.

READ: PPA seeks contractor for P980M container registry, monitoring system

The bidding pushed through despite calls for it to stop by a group of customs brokers and truckers.

In a March 11 letter to PPA general manager Jay Daniel Santiago, the Alliance of Philippine Customs Brokers and Truckers Associations sought a bidding moratorium.

The alliance comprising the Confederation of Truckers Association of the Philippines, Haulers and Truckers Association in the Watersouth Inc., Inland Haulers and Truckers Association, and Professional Customs Brokers Association of the Philippines Inc said there are issues raised by their constituents who will largely be affected by the project.

The alliance noted the TOP-CRMS and ECSSSF will come with a service fee of P4,900 plus value-added tax, which will be shouldered by importers and whose cost will be subsequently transferred to customs brokers/truckers then ultimately to consumers.

The additional cost, it said, will be on top of other charges already being imposed by PPA and other concerned government agencies.

The alliance claimed the installation of a tracking device via an app to be downloaded by truck drivers also violates data privacy laws while the project’s trucking service aggregator feature will directly affect the trucking industry as it gives local importers access to registered trucking companies and their prices.

The alliance claimed the feature that allows nearby truck drivers to directly accept trip assignments from local importers will lead to hijacking and theft monitoring problems.

The project, it said, must be discussed further with other government agencies such as the Bureau of Customs and Department of Trade and Industry as well as with private companies and organizations.

It also claimed member-associations were not invited to any public hearing.

In June 2021, PPA conducted a virtual public hearing for a proposal (not yet called TOP-CRMS) to record and monitor in real time movement of all import containers. The hearing was attended by several industry groups. No trucking organizations and customs brokers groups were present although some other groups, such as the Port Users Confederation of the Philippines, count as members trucking and customs brokers associations.

During that hearing PPA assistant general manager for finance and administration Elmer Nonnatus Cadano said the proposed system aims to improve trade facilitation and address concerns with logistics efficiency and costs, such as the long-standing issue of unreturned container deposits.

Stakeholders at the same hearing voiced concerns, saying the system might just duplicate those already in place for containers, specifically for discharge from terminals.

Using its existing digital platform, the AISL had proposed to develop, manage and implement a platform for the port authority’s container registry and monitoring system.

AISL’s proposed platform aims to facilitate realization of PPA’s proposed CRMS “acceptable to and supported by international shipping lines” at the same time “eliminate the need for expensive tagging devices and container tracking infrastructure and imposing an entirely container monitoring system that is not integrated with existing port user systems.”

In its bidding documents, PPA said it intends to procure a TOP-CRMS “that will introduce rational, cohesive, and integrated solutions which will solve persistent systemic problems affecting the overall performance and efficiencies of the PPA in areas related to its frontline and regulatory services, third-party managed services, enforcement services, and inter-agency services.”

The program aims to implement and institutionalize the CRMS, which seeks to streamline transactions in support of trade facilitation, ease of doing business, and border protection programs of the government.

The TOP-CRMS consists of inter-related program components, namely, the TOP; the container identification and control program; the container tracking program; and the container availability and insurance program.

The container identification and control program will enable PPA to digitally capture all inbound shipping containers in advance before they enter any port in the country.

The container tracking program will enable PPA to digitally tag all inbound shipping containers with a tracking device to provide full visibility of the utilization, movement, and location of every foreign-owned container.

The container availability and insurance program will provide local importers access to container insurance services, as well as equip PPA with the ability to monitor financial transactions required by shipping lines for all inbound shipping containers to safeguard government’s revenue interests.

The TOP-CRMS will be rolled out initially at two pilot ports, the Manila South Harbor and Manila International Container Terminal, which handle 98% of the country’s total container traffic. – Roumina Pablo