Empty containers to be removed from Manila ports

SOME 100,000 empty containers still need to be removed from the Manila ports to ease congestion at the country's container ports.

Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said the government and the private sector are making ways to dispatch empty containers currently clogging the Manila ports.

"Problem now is dealing with empty containers, 80,000 to 100,000 empty containers are in the country today," he said Thursday in a Senate hearing on port congestion.

Alyansa Agrikultura president Ernesto Ordonez said the port congestion is not yet over and the shipping lines should be accountable in clearing the containers.

"The main problem is the empties and the shipping line should take responsibility," Ordonez said as he urged the government to take immediate response to solve the problem.

"We plead government must be involved, not through regulation, but with involvement the way Secretary Almendras is doing," he added.

Mary Zapata, president of Aduana Business Club, said that if the problem on empty containers is addressed, it would be easy for the shipping lines to go in and out of the port.

"If the shipping line will just do the responsibility with their own equipment, we will not have this problem right now," she said.

Meanwhile, Almendras lauded some shipping lines during the hearing, saying that there are shipping lines that are "very good and efficient" despite the congestion.

Christian Gonzales, spokesperson of International Container Terminal Services Inc., said there is already some improvement in the ports, citing the development in the waiting time of the ships.

He however noted the transactions done by the truckers at the ports. He said collecting money would be a real problem.

"Real problem now is people collecting money, promising that they will trigger transaction that has already been approved," Gonzales said.

Melissa Chua, a member of Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc., said the shipping lines would not solve port congestions because they were making money out of it.

Confederation of Truckers Association of the Philippines director Alberto Suansing said the reason why truckers increased their charge is due to the delay in the port.

Senator Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV, chairperson of Senate committee on trade, commerce, and entrepreneurship, affirmed that he would solve the issue of corruption in the ports.

He asked the Department of Trade and Industry and Bureau of Internal Revenue to look after the importers.

The two agencies will be monitoring complaints with regard to port issues.

"We have solved the big problem, now, we are solving the coronary problems," Almendras said. (Sunnex)

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