To “urgently address port congestion” at the Manila International Container Port (MICT), the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has temporarily authorized Manila North Harbor as a designated port for the transfer of overstaying foreign containers cleared for delivery/withdrawal.
MICT is operated by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI), which also has a 50% stake in Manila North Harbour Port Terminal, Inc., operator of domestic port Manila North Harbor.
PPA Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 11-2020, dated March 26, said the transfer of import containers is subject to approval by the Bureau of Customs (BOC). The order takes effect immediately.
MICT “has come to a point where it is becoming impossible to operate in an efficient manner,” said ICTSI executive vice president Christian Gonzalez in a March 27 letter to consignees, shippers, customs brokers, and processors, a copy of which was sent by PPA to media.
He added, “Containers are simply not being removed from the terminal. We understand that it is unfeasible for some, and many businesses have been temporarily shut down, but without the full support of everyone that is able to open, we will come to a point when efficient operations will no longer be possible.”
He said there were 22,043 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) of imports in the terminal on March 14 but by March 27, this has increased to 36,793 TEUs.
Gonzalez appealed to consignees, shippers, customs brokers, and processors, especially consignees with reefer cargo, to withdraw reefers immediately.
For the period covering March 1 to March 26, he noted that 8,201 cleared containers were sitting at the terminal, of which more than 850 TEUs are refrigerated containers.
In addition, there are 21,387 TEUs that have been discharged after March 1 but still waiting for clearance and release; over 1,400 TEUs of these are reefers.
“Those who are able to must please clear and remove your containers immediately,” appealed Gonzalez.
Those unable to take delivery at their own facilities, ICTSI offered its offsite facilities in Laguna, Bulacan and Cavite. “Special accommodations are available to anyone who utilizes these facilities,” Gonzalez said.
He also appealed to the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Diseases to facilitate immediate approval for transfer or condemnation, through the BOC, of more than 7,000 TEUs in MICT for more than 30 days.
Of the more than 7,000 TEUs, 5,400 TEUs are uncleared overstaying boxes, 4,865 of which are overstaying and were discharged between 2010 and 2019.
“Condemn and approve the transfer of all containers (at the MICT) which were discharged in 2018 or earlier immediately bypassing the tedious condemnation and auction process. We must act on this after years of debate,” Gonzalez said.
He noted that “all cleared boxes over 30 days old should have approvals facilitated” so they can be transferred without delay to external facilities.
During the month-long enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), all types of cargoes may be transported unhampered but there have been hiccups in the first few days of implementation of the ECQ with checkpoint personnel barring cargo trucks from passage, claiming only trucks carrying essential goods may clear the checkpoints.– Roumina Pablo
Photo courtesy of ICTSI