Relief goods stuck

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Sunday, May 18, 2014


CEBU -- Almost 200 cargo containers filled with relief goods for the survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda have yet to be delivered from the Cebu International Port (CIP), months after these arrived.

Some 175 cargo containers of donated rice from Algeria and seven others containing relief goods from other countries remain at the port, with the Department of Social Welfare and Development-Central Visayas (DSWD-7) struggling to pay for the fees required for their release.

Rosario Bacong, food and non-food cluster coordinator of the DSWD, said they are requesting P14 million from the central office to pay for the cost of demurrage or storage and other fees charged by shipping companies and the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

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The amount will also cover the cost of transporting the goods from the CIP to the DSWD warehouse and to the typhoon-affected areas.

“We sent our request last week. We hope to receive the funds next week,” Bacong told Sun.Star Cebu in a phone interview on Saturday.

The delay has rendered some relief items useless.

When a cargo container from Spain was delivered to the DWSD warehouse at the Cebu International Convention Center earlier this month, the juice products it contained were already expired.

The cargo arrived on the last week of January, and the products were to expire sometime in February. The cargo container, however, was loaded with other relief supplies that the DSWD managed to send to typhoon victims, like water.

Bacong said the DSWD needs to pay P1,400 every day for every undelivered cargo container.

Some of the containers have been lying at the port since January. The BOC also requires cargo containers loaded with clothes to be opened for inspection. For this process, the DSWD has to pay P10,000 for every 40-foot container van.

BOC Port of Cebu District Collector Roberto Almadin did not answer repeated calls from Sun.Star Cebu.

At the height of the government’s relief operations, processes and fees at the port were cut to ensure fast delivery of goods. This year, companies and government agencies involved in the shipment of goods began to charge fees again.

The relief goods are inspected by personnel from the DSWD and the Department of Health at the warehouse to make sure these are fit for human consumption.

The last time the DSWD got hold of cargoes from the port was last May 7, when four container vans from Kuwait were delivered to the warehouse.

Bacong assured there are still enough relief supplies for typhoon survivors in northern Cebu, Leyte, Samar and other areas, despite the undelivered container vans.

The Algerian Government has shipped 6,400 tons of rice worth US$3 million to Cebu. The donations arrived in batches from January to February.

A ceremonial turnover was held at the CIP last January 5, almost two months after Yolanda struck the Visayas.

The typhoon caused massive devastation and killed more than 6,200 people, mostly in Leyte and Samar. Some 16 million people were affected, with 4.1 million left homeless. (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 18, 2014.

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