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Is there congestion in Cebu port?

By: Vanessa Claire Lucero January 19,2016 - 10:13 PM

Port officials say there is no congestion, but port services firm exec says otherwise

While port authorities claim there is no more congestion in the Cebu Port, a port  services firm’s official said there remains a space problem at the port.

“It’s a question of semantics, whether we will term it as a congestion or not, but there´s really a space problem,” said Tomas Riveral, Oriental Port and Allied Services Corp. (Opascor) president and general manager during yesterday’s dialogue to determine if there is really port congestion.

Officials from the Cebu Port Authority (CPA), Bureau of Customs (BOC), Opascor executives, stakeholders and businessmen from trade and manufacturing industries and shipping line operators yesterday attended the dialogue tackling the issue.

The Cebu Port Authority officials said there is no more port congestion.

“The port congestion was corrected somewhat last year with the increase in storage charges,” said retired Vice Admiral Edmund Tan (PCG), CPA vice chairman.

“I know there are available spaces in our port,” Tan said.

Customs Deputy Collector Wivina Pamatong agreed with Tan’s observation.

¨There´s no port congestion in Cebu. Maybe there are other ports that are indeed experiencing port congestion,¨ Pamatong said.

Tan said the granting of the lease of CPA by the Bureau of Customs for a lot to be used as the extension of the CIP helped in accommodating the cargo containers which take up space in the port.

At present, 749 cargo boxes, or 898,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) have been transferred to the CIP extension. Only around 20 more containers needed to be transferred from the main port to the extension, according to the list provided by the BOC.

Riveral, however, said last year that the CPA solved the congestion and reduced the number of cargo containers on the port.

In December last year, the daily average dwell time of containers on the port was 50 days, as opposed to the average of 102 days reported in September.

Container yard utilization was 20 percent below the livable operational yard utilization of 75 percent last year.

Riveral attributed this to CPA´s strict implementation of its policies.

However, yard utilization increased dramatically in December, with the highest daily average yard utilization recorded at 101 percent, and the lowest at 88 percent, both of which are beyond the ideal utilization rates.

Another issue discussed during the dialogue was problem of coordination between Opascor, the CPA and BOC which caused the slow transfer of containers to the CIP yard extension area.

Riveral cited different work schedules as the cause of the problem – both Opascor and CPA run 24-hour operations while the BOC only opens until 7 p.m.

Pamatong said a skeletal force during the weekends has been set up by the agency to address this issue and to facilitate the transfer of seized containers.

Pamatong cited the truckers prioritizing vessels coming in during the day time and only when the trucks are no longer busy can they transfer the containers to the CIP extension.

Riveral, however, said he believes that the best time for truckers to withdraw the containers is during the evening especially with the traffic situation in the city.

He suggested that the BOC look into the idea of providing Customs personnel in charge of clearing cargo until midnight to facilitate evening cargo withdrawals.

“For truckers, we can give first hand assurance that if they will just tell us in advance what are the containers to be withdrawn in the evening, then personnel will attend to them even if there are vessel operations,” he added.

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