PPA: Importers' 'modus' causes congestion in PH ports' storage for refrigerated containers

Some importers have been taking advantage of the cheaper storage fee at the Philippine ports' warehouses for their refrigerated containers, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has revealed.

The practice became a headache for port officials as it would result in high congestion rate that even forced PPA General Manager Jay Santiago to suspend the acceptance of refrigerated containers from arriving international shipping lines from Dec. 25 last year to Jan. 1 this year.

Santiago admitted that the importers' practice of delaying the release of their refrigerated containers despite being cleared by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has been a serious problem over the years for the PPA.

"What we have been monitoring is that the fees that importers pay for storage in ports are cheaper compared to the private warehouses... this is being abused by some of the importers," said Santiago in an interview over Teleradyo.

Last month for instance, he disclosed that the congestion rate of refrigerated containers reached 110 percent which forced the PPA to convert other regular warehouses into makeshift storage for refrigerated containers.

Supposedly, refrigerated containers must be released from PPA-run storage areas within five days after they were unloaded from the shipping lines, and after securing a gate pass from the BOC.

But in some cases, Santiago disclosed that there were refrigerated containers which remained in their storage areas for weeks and months despite the presence of gate passes from the BOC.

In fact, he said there were refrigerated containers which were monitored to be staying in the storage areas for 700 days.

What the PPA wants, according to Santiago, is to relocate the refrigerated containers to private warehouses to give way to other arriving container vans.

And since the PPA hands are tied on the regulated storage fees, he said the agency should be given authority to increase the penalty fee in order to force importers to remove their refrigerated containers from the ports' storage areas and be relocated to private warehouses.