Manila Port Congestion Improving

As the Journal of Commerce reports, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) said the situation at the ports of Manila has improved due to several measures implemented to solve the congestion problem.

PPA General Manager Atty. Juan Sta. Ana said cargo backlog and the number of empty containers currently clogging the Manila ports have declined significantly.

On February 24, eight-wheeled trucks and vehicles with a gross weight of more than 9,920 pounds were banned from the city’s streets to ease the chronic gridlock that has long plagued the Philippine capital. But the congestion simply shifted from the streets to the container port, which handles roughly 3.7 million TEUs per year. The terminals worst affected were ICTSI flagship Manila International Container Terminal (MICT), and Asian Terminals Inc.’s Manila South Harbor (MSH).

The mitigating measures aimed at easing the congestion included freeing up one lane of Roxas Boulevard, which runs along the city’s waterfront, for use by trucks transporting containers to and from Manila’s ports 24 hours a day.

Other measures have seen incentives offered to lines to call at the nearby Batangas port and sweeper ships deployed purely to collect empty containers from the Manila terminals. Empties are one of the greatest problems the port and city face.

Several business groups, including the Federation of Philippine Industries, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Joint Foreign Chamber, the Indian Foreign Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, have agreed to pick up  their shipments during weekends to prevent clogging at the ports.

Foreign shipping lines, led by the members of the Association of International Shipping Lines (AISL), have committed to extend their offices’ operating hours to accommodate other concerns of the cargo owners, such as payment of demurrage and other vessel-related fees.

Just two months ago, the number of laden containers piled up at the Manila ports hit 99,000 TEUs that occupied about 105 percent of the MICT and MSH yards. Empty containers reached a high of 22,000 TEUs. The truck ban effectively limited the movement of cargo in and out of Manila to nighttime only.

Currently, congestion at the Ports of Manila continues to decline, with yard utilization hovering around 87 percent to 90 percent. However, it is estimated that about 8,175 TEUs needed to be cleared.

The number of containers being held up at the ports of Hong Kong, Singapore and Kaohsiung is also decreasing, falling from 37,000 TEUs two months ago to 20,000 TEUs earlier this month.

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