Manila ports expect no congestion this peak period

The port congestion that halted shipments to Metro Manila and caused price hikes during the past two Christmas seasons were mainly caused by a February 2014 truck ban in the city that took almost a year to unravel.

“We do not see that happening this year,” Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon was quoted as saying.

General Manager of the Philippine Ports Authority, Jay Daniel Santiago, said, “We are not expecting port congestion as of the moment.”

As of this week, Port of Manila and Manila International Container Port (MICP) have recorded an average yard utilization of 68% down from the over 90% level recorded in 2014 and in early 2015.

The two ports, the largest in the country, got clogged with shipments as a result of a truck ban imposed by Manila Mayor Joesph Estrada in February 2014 which prevented deliveries from plying the capital’s roads. The ban was lifted in September 2014, but it was not until March last year that congestion was relieved.

“This time we are seeing very effective movements of shipments. It is averaging 25 to 30 moves per hour compared with just 10 during the congestion,” Santiago said.

Outside the ports, he added that the “no-window policy” for vehicle coding that began this week could also help ease shipment deliveries.

Santiago said only “perishables” forming holiday demand for food and other items are expected to come in over the last three months of the year, towards the end of the peak season.

Sought for comment, Sergio Ortiz-Luis, president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation, echoed the government’s view.

“There are some improvement making it (port congestion) not so bad this year. There still is, but not of similar magnitude than before,” Ortiz-Luis said by phone.

“Hopefully, the situation will remain the same even with the influx of more shipments,” he added.

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