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Manila takes steps to avoid repeat of port congestion saga

Manila takes steps to avoid repeat of port congestion saga

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Manila: Anxious not to see a repeat of last year’s port congestion in the capital, the Philippine government has moved to strip local officials of the power to enforce truck bans unilaterally. The decision by the mayor of Manila, former president Joseph Estrada, to push through a ban on trucks along key roads in Manila resulted in a dramatic supply chain nightmare for the nation, with boxes stacked up unable to move for months on end.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has estimated the government lost more than $1.5bn from the port congestion.

Cabinet secretary Rene Almendras said this week at a senate hearing: “We are insisting that for any local government to restrict traffic on national roads, they must have the concurrence of the national government agency in charge.”

He added: “For legislative purposes, maybe there is need to create certain mechanisms that will not allow a local government unit to hold national interest hostage to an individual action in a small area. Nobody can say I do not like the colour of your truck therefore you cannot pass through this road when I’m awake. It is even bad for the economy of the locality,” he said.

Almendras said the port situation in Manila was finally getting back to normal.

Senator Bam Aquino, chairman of the committee on trade, commerce and entrepreneurship, agreed, but warned transport costs in the archipelago remain too high.

Meanwhile, a government think-tank, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), proposed earlier this week proposed diverting more cargoes to Batangas and Subic Bay in the future to avoid a repeat of last year’s container snarl-up.

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Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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