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Cargo cleared by Customs all set to be shipped

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) is giving importers and brokers with overstaying Customs-cleared cargo at the Manila ports until Sept. 8 to withdraw their containers in line with efforts to decongest the port area.

PPA said in a statement that the cargo left unclaimed would be immediately transferred to the Subic and Batangas ports, or any other location identified by the Cabinet Cluster on Port Congestion.

“All costs associated with the transfer of said containers will be shouldered solely by the cargo owner upon release thereof,” it said.

PPA General Manager Juan C. Sta. Ana said the move was meant to clear the two Manila ports of overstaying Customs-cleared and ready-to-go containers. He claimed that some importers used the ports as virtual warehouses.

“This will serve as notice to all importers and brokers to withdraw their cargo from the ports, otherwise, we will immediately transfer these cargo to any of the said destinations at their own expense,” Sta. Ana said. “We have already identified and reasonably informed the owners of these containers, which vary from big-time to small-time, and we will no longer notify them if they fail to meet the Sept. 8 deadline.”

Based on inventory, there is a significant number of Customs-cleared cargo and containers with gate passes stacked up at the Manila ports.

Customs-cleared containers are shipping crates, of which duties and taxes to the Bureau of Customs (BOC) had already been paid. The owners of the containers only had to settle the cargo-handling fees before release. Customs-cleared cargo with gate pass refers to boxes that are still in storage even though the duties and taxes, as well as the cargo-handling fees, have been settled.

“Please understand that this is not to punish our importers but only to clear as much space as possible in preparation for the influx of cargo due to [arrive], reducing pressure on inflation,” Sta. Ana said.

Already, yard utilization at the two Manila ports has jumped back to 90 percent.

Productivity and efficiency at Manila International Container Terminal remained at 20 moves an hour—a significant improvement from the 10 to 12 moves an hour two months ago. At Manila South Harbor, productivity soared to 15 moves an hour from only 8 moves an hour during the same period.

The PPA, along with the port operators, is also trying to maintain the number of empties at the Manila ports, as it slowly takes in the 20,000 containers held in ports outside the country.

Last week, the government began shipping out some 1,154 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), of the identified 3,000-TEU containers with Customs problems, to the Subic ports. It expects to complete the transfer this weekend.

As of end-June, the number of laden containers piled up at the Manila ports totaled 85,000 TEUs, which is above the yard’s capacity.

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