Pimentel wants BOC to address port congestion, delays

MANILA Senator Aquilino Pimentel III on Monday said he wants the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to explain the slower movement and longer delays in releasing shipments at the port of Manila, pointing out that the situation is causing billions of pesos in economic losses every day.

I want to hear solutions from Customs officials and other stakeholders. Port congestion is a serious threat to the economy. We don't want a slowdown in commerce this coming Christmas season, all because volume may have to be scaled down as a result of inefficiency in our ports, in Manila in particular, Pimentel said in a news release.

He said he has been receiving numerous complaints from importers, traders, truckers and brokers groups, as well as consumer and overseas Filipino workers associations about the worsening port congestion at the Port of Manila.

The chair of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship said vessels now take at least four days to berth at the pier and another two to three days to unload containers at the yard.

So it takes seven to 10 days to unload a container. The longer these containers stay unreleased, the higher the added storage charges are incurred, which are eventually passed on to us consumers. That's only one problem, he said.

Pimentel said figures released by the National Economic Development Authority showed economic losses from port congestion at PHP2.5 billion. Approximately the same amount is lost separately due to Manila's worsening traffic situation.

A more comprehensive solution to the port problem needs to be formulated in addressing congestion. At this point, we need bigger, more long-term solutions, he said.

Key infrastructure components should be made integral parts of the government's Build, Build, Build program. For example, we need dedicated roads linking the port to our skyways and expressways, Pimentel said.

He also suggested de-clogging the capital's port operations and expanding alternative gateways in Subic and Batangas.

This serious national economic matter may require Senate intervention in, first, probing the problem further and, second, in bringing about solutions through an inquiry called for such purpose. We need the BOC to urgently shed light on these issues, Pimentel said.(Senate PR)

Source: Philippine News Agency