The Department of Transportation on Wednesday asked cargo owners and consignees to withdraw overstaying cargoes and free up space inside the Manila International Container Terminal.
“I am appealing to cargo owners and consignees to remove their overstaying cargoes inside the MICT. A healthy port means no congestion, no delays in the delivery of cargo and stable prices of goods. A healthy port ensures a continuous flow of maritime commerce and an efficient utilization of the container yard,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said in a statement.
Tugade aired the appeal after the Philippine Ports Authority warned of a possible shutdown of the Port of Manila if cargo owners and consignees continued to ignore calls to withdraw cleared, ready-for-delivery and overstaying cargoes.
The PPA said yard utilization at the Manila international ports—composed of the Manila International Container Terminal and the Manila South Harbor –were almost 100-percent full as majority of cargoes remained idle following the declaration of the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon to stem the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019.
Tugade stressed the importance of decongesting the MICT yard of cleared, ready-for-delivery and overstaying cargoes to make way for incoming cargoes needed by the government in its campaign against the coronavirus pandemic such as food items, protective equipment and medicine.
“A healthy port is what is most needed now as we find ways to efficiently deliver needed goods and services to our fellow Filipinos who are trying to break free from the clutches of the coronavirus pandemic,” Tugade said.
The PPA over the weekend started coordination with the Bureau of Customs, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Agriculture to find measures 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 overstaying containers.
Among the measures being considered are forfeiture of overstaying cargoes in favor of the government, reducing the cargo clearing period and free storage period from the current allowable time and the imposition of heavy fines, penalties and storage fees on cargo owners in order to force them to withdraw their overstaying cargoes.
The agencies are expected to come out with a Joint Memorandum Circular to implement the needed yard management at the Manila port.
More than 800 cleared reefer vans were inside the MICT containing perishables like food, medicines and other essentials and over 2,000 dry containers that were ready for delivery remained inside the terminal as of Friday.
Based on the proposed joint memorandum circular, all cargoes that were discharged from the vessels for more than 30 days and were still at the port should be withdrawn within five days.