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THE Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) revised some provisions in its six-day total daytime truck ban for the holidays a day before the ban was to take effect on Dec. 13.

MMDA Memorandum Circular No. 16 series of 2013 implements a total daytime truck ban from Dec. 13 to 20 – except Sunday, Dec. 15 – that bars trucks from Metro Manila roads from 6 am to 10 pm.

Exempt from the ban are roads from South Luzon Expressway to the ports of Manila via the South Superhighway and vice versa, and routes from the North Luzon Expressway via A. Bonifacio Avenue and vice versa.

After a forum with stakeholders called on Dec 11, the MMDA also exempted petroleum tankers and logistics carriers used for relief operations in areas devastated by Supertyphoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda).

The forum was initiated by the Supply Chain Management Association of the Philippines (SCMAP), along with the Integrated North Harbor Truckers Association, Aduana Business Club, Philippine Institute of Petroleum (PIP), Department of Energy (DOE), Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Export Development Council and other business groups.

Atty. Emerson S. Carlos, MMDA assistant general manager for operations, headed the forum where stakeholders presented their arguments on why the MMDA should defer the ban.

A DOE representative noted two major concerns: First, its deadline for the restoration of power in the typhoon-hit areas in the Visayas on Dec. 24, and, second, its need for fuel. The representative said most supplies come from Manila and 80% of these are trucked, a faster and cheaper transport mode in bringing equipment and supplies needed for the restoration project in Visayas.

The PIP, meanwhile, sought exemption of fuel tankers from the daytime truck ban because of “certain operational realities”, particularly the delivery of an estimated minimum of 2.6 million liters of jet fuel a day. The group said delivery disruption of the “very critical product will have a great impact on our domestic and international (air) lines and economic aspects”.

About 70% of around 600 trucks plying Manila roads service the petroleum industry.

Most importantly, the additional logistical requirements to compensate for the shortened travel window had to be done with less than a week’s notice. Loading at facilities cannot be modified easily,the PIP representative said.

Angelito Colona, vice president of PCCI and president the United Portusers Confederation, said the roads to Manila ports are already very congested and the implementation of the ban will further aggravate the situation.

Colona argued that in last year’s ban, airline routes were also spared, unlike now.

SCMAP presented its earlier position that the ban would make cargoes susceptible to pilferage. The group also pointed out that congestion around the ports is already hampering the supply chain, a point seconded by truckers.

Other points raised by stakeholders:

  • Most consumers, customers and retailers are not prepared to conduct night-time operations.
  • Most plants and warehouses are within Metro Manila.
  • Stores would run out of stocks if trucks are unable to deliver the goods.
  • Small enterprises like sari-sari (mom-and-pop) stores need everyday distribution of goods as they don’t have warehouses like other establishments.

“We’re just asking for a little sacrifice for the good of the majority,” Carlos said, explaining that the truck ban was set for Dec. 13-20 precisely so as not to inconvenience students still going to school and the public doing their Christmas shopping.

The MMDA said the model used for the truck ban was the same used for the three-day Asian Summit Development Bank (ADB) last year. During that time, Metro Manila roads were free of heavy traffic, Carlos noted.

Stakeholders said while the scheme helped, it had a negative effect on business.

Teddy Gervacio, president of INHTA, recalled that at that time the supposed one-day turnaround of trucks became two, leading to additional costs that consumers and the public paid for in the end.

He said truckers had made a lot of sacrifices during the ADB Summit ban, including incurring hefty storage fees.

On another note, a representative from the association of supermarkets and retailers said to compensate for expected delivery shortfalls, they would order supplies in bulk. ––Roumina M. Pablo

Image courtesy of Bill Longshaw / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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