State-run Philippine Ports Authority warned of a possible port shutdown if cargo owners and consignees continue to shun calls to clear overstaying cargoes.
PPA general manager Jay Daniel Santiago said despite efforts to transfer cleared and overstaying containers from the Manila International Container Terminal to a facility inside the Manila North Harbor, there were not enough breathing space for Manila port terminals to operate efficiently and productively.
Yard utilization at the Manila international ports, composed of the Manila International Container Terminal and Manila South Harbor, were almost 100-percent full as majority of cargoes remained idle after the implementation of the community quarantine two weeks ago.
More than 800 cleared reefer vans were inside the MICT containing perishables like food, medicines and other essentials, while more than 2,000 dry containers which were ready for delivery remained inside the terminal as of Friday.
“Ports, specifically the Manila ports, are the lungs of the country’s commerce and trade. These lungs right now are not functioning efficiently due to congestion,” Santiago said.
“If we continue to ignore calls to withdraw even only those cleared, ready for delivery and overstaying cargoes, these lungs are in danger of total collapse, resulting in full-blown port congestion, or worst, a shutdown, and consequently a shortage in the much-needed goods and supplies which are expected to address the demands of the market,” he said.
Santiago said the government was appealing to the consignees, cargo owners, brokers, logistics, manufacturers and other supply chain service providers to help us address the situation by withdrawing their cargoes. Darwin G. Amojelar
“We really need to clear these cargoes to accommodate the incoming ones as most of our needs to fight this COVID-19 pandemic are in these incoming cargoes,” Santiago said.
PPA said it was working with the Bureau of Customs, the Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Agriculture to prevent congestion at the ports after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases issued an order to clear the ports with containers.
Among the heavily considered measures include the forfeiture of overstaying cargoes in favor of the government and reducing the cargo clearing period and the free storage period from the current allowable time to force the cargo owners to withdraw their cargoes.
The agencies are expected to come out with a joint memorandum circular to effect the needed yard management at the Manila ports.