By Hannah Torregoza
Reelectionist Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara has urged the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to address the reported resurgence of congestion in the Port of Manila which is hurting businesses and the manufacturing sector.
According to Angara, the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII), in its letter to the Senate, has sought a resolution to the problem as complaints continue to mount among its members due to the congestion at the country’s busiest port complex. The FFCCCII claims there is again slow movement and long delays in the release of merchandise within the Port of Manila.
“I hope the Bureau of Customs will help solve the problem because it is hurting businesses. Port congestion causes delays and increases the cost of doing business which is ultimately passed on to consumers,” said Angara, who chairs the Senate committee on ways and means.
Angara said the BOC should heed the call as port congestion reverberates throughout the supply chain, becoming a significant trade barrier for both exports and imports with a corresponding negative impact on the economy.
“We should not take this problem sitting down, especially now that we are beginning to witness its macroeconomic effects,” Angara warned.
“Unless we do something, the economy will suffer,” the senator pointed out.
In its letter, the FFCCCII said the “inordinately slow release of containers” from international vessels is delaying the delivery of raw materials and intermediate goods, thereby affecting the production and manufacturing of goods in the Philippines and hiking costs.
The federation also claimed of receiving reports of “questionable and arbitrary charges” imposed by international shipping lines on Philippine port users and stakeholders.
Angara said the government should avoid a repeat of the 2014 port congestion crisis that resulted from the truck ban imposed by the Manila City government.
The 2014 port congestion crisis caused major delays in the delivery of raw materials and in the manufacturing of products, prompting the exodus of foreign firms to other Asian countries.
It also gave rise to multiple fees charged by the major port users such as the truckers, shipping lines and the port authorities arising from sudden operational emergencies.
“Nakita na natin ang masamang epekto ng pagkakaroon ng port congestion at hindi malayong maranasan natin ulit ito kung hindi tayo kikilos para solusyunan ang problemang ito, (We have seen the negative effect of having a port congestion and there is a possibility we might experience it again if we do not take action to solve this problem),” the lawmaker said.
The Federation claimed port congestion was again reported in 2018 and the same has carried over to 2019.
FFCCCII attributed these delays to various issues like the return of empty containers due to lack of container yards, which also led to a Truck Holiday in November 2018 by the Alliance of Philippine Brokers and Truckers Associations.
The group said that at present, it takes approximately five days for vessels to berth at the pier and another three days to unload. They also complained of the delay in the release by the BOC of shipments as processing time for clearance of cargoes has increased, causing higher storage fees for importers.
Importers are also unable to properly schedule deliveries or sales cycle because of the slow loading of containers due to long queues. “All this is costing money which is ultimately passed on to consumers,” the FFCCCII said.