The international gateway ports of the Philippines could be shut down once the maximum capacity is reached, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) warned.
Yard utilization at the Manila ports, composed of the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) and the Manila South Harbor, have already reached 90% this week, with thousands of cargoes stocked for several days after Luzon was locked down.
“Ports, specifically the Manila ports, are the lungs of the country’s commerce and trade. These lungs right now are not functioning efficiently due to congestion,” said, PPA General Manager Jay Santiago in a recent interview.
On April 2, the Philippine government issued a joint administrative order which refers to the “Adoption of Processes for the Expedited Release of Refrigerated Containers and Dry Vans during the Period of Enhanced Community Quarantine.”
This allows the authorities to conduct clearing of ports and forfeiture of overstaying cargos in favor of the state to address the congestion problem.
“Reefers staying at the terminal for more than 30 days and are not withdrawn by April 14, 2020 will be considered abandoned by the Bureau of Customs and will be disposed of in accordance with the law,” the memorandum read.
The travel guidelines for cargoes to and from Philippine ports were also amended by the PPA. All truck drivers and helpers who are carrying cargoes will be given free passes to all ports in the country provided that they will be subjected to strict health protocols.
PPA Memorandum Circular 13-2020 states that “Trucks carrying cargoes from one port to another in the country, regardless of whether they are traversing a body or bodies of water, are allowed continuous access to and from the ports.”
In addition, those carrying empty containers intended for withdrawal and relocation will also be given access to and from the ports as well as inland container depots.
The entire island of Luzon was placed under enhanced community quarantine which was initially scheduled to last until April 12, but was later extended until April 30 as the coronavirus cases continue to mount.
During the said period wherein half of the 100 million population of the country are affected, all land, sea and air travel are suspended, except for valuable goods like food and medicine.