By Giana Anella G. Atienza and Meryll Isis F. Rocha
In the Philippines, shipping is considered one of the most vital modes of transportation. To cope with the distance set by nature, the citizens built ports to keep the rich economy of the country going. To keep these ports in check, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has been managing ports all over the country.
For 43 years, the PPA has been serving its local and global clients using the best practices and the state-of-the-art technologies. As its 2016 gross revenue of P14.227 billion is 7.08% higher than its P13.287 billion gross revenue in 2015, the PPA has no way but up in exceeding their targets in the industry.
In 2016, the PPA’s ship and trade performance surpassed its target economic growth and the previous year’s achievements.
Sustained growth momentum in port operation statistics was exhibited by PPA with registered improvements in volume of transactions in shipping and trade as well as in key port performance metrics. Cargo amount and containers handled at the ports for the year were higher by 8.16% and 10.17%, respectively, where both foreign traffic components took the biggest share in the overall positive deviation.
In addition, passenger traffic and vessel service during the period posted growth due to increased reliance on water-borne transport for domestic inter-island connectivity, and increased demand for prime commodities and construction materials resulted in higher vessel calls.
The Ports of Manila continue to remain free from congestion as a result of the measures set in place to ensure the smooth sailing movement of containers. The faster and efficient flow of movement of commodities resulting from the anti-port congestion programs implemented yielded rates well within internationally accepted standards.
Staying afloat in the modern tides
The PPA has continued to improve and develop its facilities in the country to meet global standards. The association has formed bonds with national organizations to conduct stricter monitoring vessel movements and navigation and maritime incidents.
In line with this, PPA and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) agreed to implement the Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS) which controlled port traffic. By the end of 2015, congestion in the ports of the country is solved.
As a developing country, the PPA adapted on 2013 its junior and senior managers TrainforTrade training program devised by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to implement efficient and competitive port management.
The Port of General Santos City passed the external audit conducted by the Partnership in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) on the end of 2015 and has met international standards of port safety, health and environment management, and port security.
The Manila North Harbor Port, Inc. (MNHPI) formally launched its new passenger terminal building, the first installment of its P14 billion committed investment to modernize the country’s premier domestic port, the North Harbor. The 11,600 square meters passenger terminal complex inside the North Harbor, now known as the North Port can seat 1,875 passengers at any time and is equipped with five X-ray scanning machines as well as a dedicated area for check-in baggage.
Embarking on International waters
In 2011, PPA and the Incheon Port of Korea forged a sister port affiliation to promote trade and maritime transport between the Philippines and Korea. This agreement helps in undertaking exchange programs on port technology and management.
In 2013, the German Cooperation (GIZ) reviewed and upgraded the policies, rules and regulations of the Safety, Health, and Environment (SHE) of the PPA in order to meet global standards of service.
PPA also successfully hosted in 2015 two major global events, namely, the 8th Philippine Ports and Shipping Conference and the APEC Port Services Network (APSN) Workshop.
The Philippines placed 36th in the 2016 Top 100 Container Ports by Lloyd’s List of Containerization International. While in 2015, the PPA placed 35th amongst the Top 50 World Container Ports listed by the World Shipping Council.
Aside from these achievements, the country has strong ties with other international ports. Recently, the country hosted the first ever ASEAN Training Network for Sustainable Port Development meeting in 2016 and discussed the future of improving the quality of Safety, Health, and Environment management of the ASEAN ports.
Outside of Southeast Asia, the PPA, together with Japan Overseas Port Cooperation Association (JOPCA), held the second Ph-Jap Port Seminar for Disaster Prevention in early 2016 and made deals in constructing disaster-resilient ports in light of the 7.3 magnitude Bohol earthquake in October of 2013 and the devastation of Cyclone Haiyan in November of the same year.
To tackle common regional and global endeavors, to ensure the quality, integrity and adherence to standards of port equipment acquisition, and to keep abreast with global maritime trends and developments, the PPA is an active member of various international maritime associations.
The PPA has been a loyal and active member of the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH), International Maritime Organization (IMO), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), ASEAN Port Authorities (APA), APEC Port Services Network (APSN), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Permanent International Association of Navigation Congresses (PIANC), and the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asia Growth Association (BIMP-EAGA).
It has closely engaged with its global and regional counterparts through meetings, conferences, policy-making, capacity building, and dialogues on common endeavors related to port facility standards, antiterrorism, anti-human trafficking, environmental protection, port security and safety, and a host of other common areas of concern.
In 2016, the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) conducted a comprehensive survey on Port Users’ Annual Satisfaction Survey (PASS). The survey focuses on the port users’ perception of the services and administration of PPA, thus, the respondents were limited only to Passengers and Shipping Lines at targeted base ports with high passenger volume such as, North Harbor, Bohol, Ozamiz, Cagayan de Oro, Siquijor, Bicol, and Batangas.
The PASS Draft Final Report which was submitted by the DAP in December that year, showed that the overall Service Quality Index (SQI) stood at 3.79%, representative of the satisfactory perception of the port users with PPA’s services and administration. This rate shows that the overall SQI improved with progression equivalent to 5.45% on passenger satisfaction and 0.65% on shipping lines.
PPA also recognizes the need to integrate and align all the various port developments throughout the archipelago in order to serve the decentralization of the country. The current plan is to identify certain ports, and ensure that they are aligned in terms of standards of cargo handling. With this in mind, the PPA continues to paddle hard to achieve its vision to meet global standards in its ports by 2020.