Port users warn of congestion after moratorium lift on maximum allowable weight

By Raymund Antonio

A major group of port users thinks port congestion may happen again once the six-month moratorium on the implementation of the maximum allowable gross vehicle weight (GVW) for trucks is lifted.

Container vans are piled at the Manila International Container Terminal port  on Wednesday, September. 24, 2014, in Manila. Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo made the assessment that 78,000 shipping containers stuck in the Manila port that are needed to be moved out, but only 4,500 containers are taken out of the port daily. The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) will be tapping the New Container Terminal (NCT) 2 of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) as an extension of Manila’s ports to address port congestion. (KJ ROSALES/ MANILA BULLETIN) (KJ ROSALES/ MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

The Port Users Confederation of the Philippines, Inc. sought for “institutionalized solutions” to avoid repeating congestion in Manila ports once the moratorium expires by yearend.

PUCP president and retired colonel Rodolfo De Ocampo said he was expecting a “looming” port congestion if trucks under Codes 12-2 and 12-3 are prohibited to travel.

“Once these truckers can no longer be used in January, many heavy-laden containers can’t leave the ports. Thus, this may result to port congestion,” he said.

The PUCP, which groups major sectors using or providing port services, hosted a summit meeting that aims to discuss issues that affect port operations and cargo transport efficiency.

The summit recently held in Manila gathered government and private stakeholders who came up with recommendations against the occurrence of another port congestion.

De Ocampo highlighted the need to implement permanent solutions that will avert port congestion considering the expected upsurge in cargo volumes due to the run-up to Christmas season.

For the long-term, he said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) should issue a department order that will impose a limit on the weight of laden containers to 24 metric tons.

Under the provision of the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act. No. 8794 or the Anti-Overloading Act, trucks and trailers under Codes 12-2 and 12-3 with load exceeding prescribed GVW of 41,500 and 42,000 kilograms, respectively, and load per axle of more than 13,5000 kilograms are prohibited to travel because it is considered overloading.

Code 12-2 trucks are semi-trailers with three axles on the motor vehicle and two axles on the trailer while code 12-3 trucks are semi-trailers with three axles on motor vehicle and three axles on the trailer.

There is also a proposal from the PUCP to amend such provision in the IRR on the maximum GVW under the Anti-Overloading Act. Other recommendations include the “mandatory weighing of laden containers prior to exit from the pier.”

Apart from the prohibition on the utilization of Codes 12-2 and 12-3 trucks, De Ocampo cited other contributory factors that may cause port congestion.

These factors, as written by the summit organizer, include the Asian Terminal Inc.’s data on unloading of containers, with a monthly average of 11,460 units (January-August 2018); upsurge in volume of importations cover Christmas season; unavailability of the shipping lines’ container yards hampers the return of empty containers, thus delaying the turnaround of trucks; and the perennial traffic congestion, particularly at approaches to the port, truck ban, and delayed dispatching of trucks. (Raymund F. Antonio)