Foreign trade chambers, firms seek ‘inclusive solution’ to truck ban effects
MANILA, Philippines — Local and foreign business groups have warned anew of a more serious economic damage that the expanded truck ban policy may cause when the volume of trucks coming in and out of the port of Manila picks up in the next two months.
The situation will require better and more inclusive solutions that will ensure a more efficient use of the Manila port and better utilization of those in Batangas and Subic, according to the Joint Foreign Chambers and the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries of the Philippines Inc. in a joint statement on Sunday.
“We are aware that individual stakeholders discuss solutions with individual affected parties at the moment, but the fact remains that only an inclusive stakeholders’ roundtable can assess the magnitude and the complexity of the issue and develop short, mid-term, and long-term solutions for the Manila port and the usage of the ports of Batangas and Subic,” the groups explained in the statement.
“The business community is of the opinion that such roundtable should be headed by the national government, preferably a senior Cabinet member, to drive the search for solutions and see to it that those are implemented. In our opinion that inclusive roundtable should take place now, before the trade volume picks up in a month or two, which will aggravate the logistics situation,” they further stressed.
Stakeholders that should be invited in the dialogue include the port operators; shipping lines; truckers; local government units of Manila, Caloocan, and Parañaque; Department of Public Works and Highways; Department of Transportation and Communication; Metro Manila Development Authority; National Housing Authority; Philippine Ports Authority; Philippine Economic Zone Authority; Bureau of Customs; and foreign and local chambers.
“Based on discussions we have had with some stakeholders, we firmly believe that a steady, well-managed flow of trucks with an effective appointment system will create less traffic disruption, will allow a more effective use of the port facilities and will maintain related cost at a reasonable level flow of imports and exports going,” the groups added.
The truck ban policy being implemented in the City of Manila bans eight wheelers and vehicles with a gross weight of above 4,500 kilos from plying Manila’s streets between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. A temporary concession was offered by the city government allowing trucks to ply streets between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the next six months.
This truck ban prompted trucking firms to hike their respective hauling charges by an average of 50 percent, a move that may redound to higher cost of goods for the end-consumers. Trucking firms, however, are now being probed by the Department of Trade and Industry on this move, for possible collusion and anti-competitive practices.
Other business groups such as the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, the Federation of Philippines Industries (FPI), and the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GPCCI) have since warned the government that the expanded daytime truck ban would only cripple businesses and likely result in a cut in the growth of exports and production, job losses and potential company closures.
The ECCP has put forward seven solutions to address the logistics problem at the Manila port, including the elimination of an all truck-delivery bans completely and the formulation of a proper, coordinated, and efficient 24-hour truck route regulation system; removal of empty containers from the port are; and extension of the working hours of Customs to 24/7, among others.
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