Philippines trade seen to pick up as Bureau of Customs eases ‘port congestion’

THE country’s trade transactions are expected to move much faster as the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has started measures to ease the perennial problem of ‘port congestion’ at the country’s two major collection districts, upon the instruction of Comm. Rey Leonardo ‘Jagger’ Guerrero.

In separate statements, Port of Manila (POM) district collector, Atty. Rhea Gregorio and Manila International Container Port (MICP) district collector, Atty. Dino Austria, claimed success in talks with shipping lines calling at their respective ports as well as their respective private arrastre operators regarding the problem.

Gregorio said as of this writing, yard utilization at the POM is down to 64%, a marked improvement from the 98% figure at the start of the year.

“The (POM) efforts have already resulted in the drastic decline of the yard utilization for laden and empty containers,” Gregorio said.

Austria on Tuesday held a closed-door meeting with major international shipping lines calling at the MICP where the latter agree to accept higher numbers of empty containers they would ship out of the country.

During the meeting, Austria said he found it “unacceptable” that on the average, shipping lines are only loading less than 2,000 empty containers in a 24-hour cycle.

As a result of their discussion, Austria further reported to Guerrero that his port now expects the shipping lines to take out 17,500 empty containers each week, compared to the previous average of just 10,000 containers.

Port congestion has long been the bane of waterfront stakeholders, with truckers and customs brokers even declaring a “holiday” (strike) last year claiming they are losing millions due to port congestion and the problem they always encounter on the issue of where to deliver empty containers.