PPA blames truck ban for slow growth in cargo

Posted at 05/28/14 4:37 PM

ATI proposes IT vehicle booking system

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) is blaming the day-time truck ban imposed in Manila for the slow growth of cargo volume in the first quarter of the year.

Cargo volume went up nearly five percent to 44.94 million metric tons from in the first three months of 2014 compared to the 42.942 million metric tons booked in the same period last year.

But PPA general manager Juan Sta. Ana said the jump could have been higher if the Manila city government did not impose a day-time truck ban, which effectively constricted Manila Ports in handling more cargo.

Sta. Ana added that the full effect of the truck ban will largely be felt in the second quarter of the year.

The Manila government imposed a day-time truck ban to ease vehicular traffic within the city in February, only allowing trucks in the city roads starting at 9 p.m.

The longer turnaround time because of congestion inside the North Port, the Manila South Harbor and the Manila International Container Terminal has prompted a number of vessels to stop calling at the three Manila ports.

Shipcalls saw a decline of 5.01 percent to 82,946 calls compared to the 87,321 calls posted last year.

Domestic vessel calls went down by 4.97 percent to 80,580 while foreign calls slipped 6.45 percent to 2,366 from 2,529 calls last year.

Sta. Ana said contingency measures have been put in place to offset the effects of the ban, which he believes will largely be felt in the second quarter of the year.

“Generally, we are happy on the performance of all the ports nationwide that resulted in the increase in cargo throughput. The Manila ports handle the bulk of our cargoes and while we expect the truck ban to continue, the agency, along with other stakeholders will continue to find ways to reduce the effects of the ban to the overall cargo throughput,” he said.

Sta. Ana added that despite the ban, the PPA continues “to maintain a cautious optimism in terms of growth in cargo volume nationwide.”

Booking system

Meanwhile, the Asian Terminals Inc (ATI) said that instead of a truck ban, a “sophisticated IT vehicle booking system” should be implemented similar to the system used by airlines.

In a letter to the Philippine Exporters Confederation, ATI executive vice-president Andrew Hoad said the booking system will allow trucks a “controlled” 24-hour access to the ports without causing heavy traffic in Metro Manila.

Under the proposal, trucks will require a central system that will link brokers and consignees and will be penalized for unscheduled trips.

“It will allow those who book to plan quicker, more cost-effective journeys and at the same time reduce the number of trucks on the road at any given time. There is therefore no need for a truck ban if this system were put in place,” said Hoad.

Hoad added that the suggestion to move operations to Batangas “is still not the primary answer to road congestion in Metro Manila because the two ports serve two different markets.”

“Manila and Batangas are different markets, which both need a gateway with open, accessible roads, without truck bans,” he said.