02 September 2014

Sept 8 deadline set to clear Manila ports

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) announced that importers and brokers have until September 8 to remove their overstaying customs-cleared cargoes from Manila ports.

Containers that will be left unclaimed after the cited date will be transferred to the ports in Subic and Batangas or any other location designated by the Cabinet Cluster on Port Congestion (CCPC). Cargo owners will shoulder all costs related to the transfer of their containers upon their release.

PPA General Manager Juan Sta. Ana in a statement said that the measure is aimed at further decongesting two Manila ports. He noted that erring importers seem to use the ports as virtual warehouses for their customs-cleared cargoes.

“This will serve as notice to all importers and brokers to withdraw their customs-cleared cargoes from the ports, otherwise, we will immediately transfer these cargoes to any of the said destinations at their own expense,” Sta. Ana said.

He added that the PPA issued notices of the cited measure and published these in different newspapers of general circulation.

“We already identified and reasonably informed the owners of these containers, which varies from big-time to small-time, and we will no longer notify them if they fail to meet the September 8 deadline,” Sta. Ana stressed.

According to the PPA’s inventory, many customs-cleared cargoes and container boxes that are customs-cleared with gate passes are still piled in Manila’s ports.

Customs-cleared containers are boxes that already paid the proper duties and taxes to the Bureau of Customs but have yet to pay the cargo-handling fees. Customs-cleared cargoes with gate passes, meanwhile, are boxes that already paid customs duties and cargo-handling fees but remain stored at the ports.

“Please understand that this is not to punish our importers but only to clear as much space as possible in preparation for the influx of cargoes due to the peak season and reduce pressure on inflation,” Sta. Ana told importers and brokers.

At present, yard utilization at the two Manila ports has jumped back to 90 percent after a long weekend in mid-August.

Productivity at the Manila International Container Terminal is still tallied at 20 moves per hour – a significant improvement from 10 to 12 moves per hour seen two months ago. Meanwhile, productivity at the Manila South Harbor soared to 15 moves per hour from only eight moves per hour two months ago.

The PPA and port operators are also trying to maintain the number of container empties inside the ports to gradually accommodate 20,000 held-up containers in foreign ports.

As of the end of June, the number of laden containers piled at Manila ports numbered 85,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) which occupied about 104 percent of the yards of the ports while empty containers reached a high of 22,000 TEUs.

Importers and other stakeholders blamed the daytime truck ban imposed in Manila from February 24 to the end of May for the congestion of containers in Manila ports.

Meanwhile, the CCPC also continues to appeal to the importers and brokers to take advantage of weekends and holidays in transporting cargo on account of light traffic and looser restrictions.

Last week, the government has shipped out some 1,154 TEUs out of the identified 3,000-TEU customs-problematic containers to the Subic ports and expects to complete the transfer this coming weekend. (Rosalie C. Periabras, Manila Times)