THE National Food Authority (NFA) 7 yesterday said the congestion at the Cebu International Port (CIP) berthing area delayed the unloading of the 800,000 bags of imported rice from Vietnam.
NFA 7 Assistant Director Nestor Rey Alcoseba said that of the five ocean-going vessels that delivered the 800,000 bags of rice, only one is presently docked at CIP, while the other four are on anchorage at the Mactan Channel waiting for their time to unload.
One or two of the five vessels arrived in Cebu as early as Dec. 30 and Dec. 31, 2015 and the other three last January, but they are stranded due to CIP berthing area congestion.
“The port is congested. Hence, a delay in the unloading of shipment is not anymore unusual but normal,” Alcoseba said.
The NFA official said that the international standard in unloading rice is 20,000 bags in 24 hours. The 20,000 bags is equivalent to 1,000 metric tons (MT). So, if a foreign-vessel is carrying 6MT, it will take six days to unload it.
Under the international standard, the unloading of the rice from the five vessels should be completed in at least 30 days, granting the weather is good. If rains will come, there will be more delays.
Meanwhile, the Cebu Port Authority (CPA) said there is really a problem with vessels carrying imported goods for NFA because they are too big to be accommodated at the CIP, hence, they are queueing.
CPA General Manager Edmund Tan said he will coordinate with Alcoseba as he is thinking of using the berthing space at the back of Malacañang sa Sugbo for unloading of NFA rice.
The berthing area at the back of the Malacañang satellite is called “Aduana,” which was used before by domestic shipping lines.
“We have been writing Malacañang for permission to take back that berthing space, but no reply yet. I thought, maybe, we will take the risk, in the interest of public service, to just let these vessels carrying NFA rice to unload in that area,” Tan said.
But, of course, Tan said they will just have to secure first Malacañang sa Sugbo from being encroached.
However, Tan said that if ever Malacañang will castigate CPA for allowing the unloading of government rice at the back of Malacañang sa Sugbo, they hope that NFA will help in explaining for their sake.
Alcoseba said that the NFA, too, is interested in getting the berthing area at the back of Malacañang sa Sugbo.
He said they are requesting the Office of the President to allow them to use Aduana for the domestic rice transport, to no avail.