European Traders: Truck Ban Won't End Road Jam

The ban leaves 75 percent of trucks idle, resulting in "port gridlock, collapse of supply and cost increases," which will hurt consumers

Feb. 25--The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) on Monday urged the city of Manila to scrap its truck ban, saying it is not a solution to the traffic problem and will only choke business.

"Simply put, forcing the port and the truckers to work inefficiently and limiting trucks to circuitous routes on longer stretches of city roads increase overall traffic," the group said.

"Whether we like it or not, we have to accept that Philippine local and international trades are dependent on the efficient operations of Central Luzon's logistics system and the ports of Manila are still key," ECCP President Michael Raeuber said.

"[Ports and logistics facilities] are designed to operate at peak levels of efficiency at utilization levels of up to 70 [percent] to 80 percent. Once utilization exceeds these levels, service slows because of exceedingly high demand during peak periods as the number of unproductive moves of equipment and services increases. In other words, it is essential that the flow of containers or cargo into and out of the Port of Manila is done 24/7," he explained.

The group said instead of a truck ban, the government should allow the movement of goods 24 hours a day.

The ban, it said, will leave 75 percent of trucks idle that will result in "port gridlock, collapse of supply and cost increases" which will hurt consumers in the long run and lead to the closure of companies located at the Philippine Economic Zone in Central Luzon.

"Consequently, there is no other immediate option but to accept and recognize the ports of Manila as logistics center and focus on how we can move cargo more effectively in and out of the harbor," Raeuber said.

"The single best solution for all of the aforementioned issues is to eliminate all truck bans completely and formulate a proper, coordinated, and efficient 24-hour truck route regulation system. This will benefit the entire country and will, to everyone's surprise, actually reduce the traffic impact of cargo trucks," he added.

He said building a connector road linking the port with the North Luzon and South Luzon expressways will take 70 percent of container cargo off small city roads.

"In the long term, only an efficient infrastructure chain can support industry and sustainable economic growth. The lack of supporting infrastructure will not be fixed by truck-delivery bans and other restrictions on market driven forces," the ECCP said.

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and Vice Mayor Isko Moreno met with officials of the Confederation of Truckers Association (CTA) on Monday to discuss the establishment of holding areas for trucks.

Former National Capital Regional Police Office Director General Edgardo Aglipay, an official of CTA, stressed the need for holding areas so as not to congest ports and roads.

"Because of the daytime truck ban, there will be congestion of trucks in our ports," Aglipay said. "It is better for us to have holding areas instead of congesting the roads of Manila," he added.

Estrada and Moreno said they will identify areas for such purposes.

"We will clear everything, even the basketball court. That is how serious the city of Manila is [in solving the traffic problem]," Moreno said.

"You can utilize the roads adjacent to the Philippine Ports Authority, after the wall of PPA and inside the wall of Muello de san Francisco," he added.

Estrada urged the truckers to give the daytime truck ban a chance.

"The ordinance was thoroughly studied by the council. Let us see if the scheme is effective in solving traffic before we amend it," he said.

The meeting, which was called by Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino, was also attended by officials of the Departments of Public Works and Highways and Transportation, Land Transportation Office, Philippine Ports Authority and the Philippine National Police.

Tolentino said the MMDA will form a committee that will study how to implement the agreement reached by the Manila city government and trucker groups.

Also on Monday, haulers asked President Benigno Aquino 3rd to intervene and help them convince Manila officials to junk the 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. modified truck ban and give them instead a 24-hour access to city roads.

Mary Zapata, president of Aduana Business Club, an organization of truck owners and brokers, said her group will continue its "truck holiday" or stoppage of delivering goods from Manila ports to their destinations unless Estrada recalls the city ordinance banning heavy trucks from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.

On Monday, Estrada joined policemen and traffic enforcers in apprehending violators of the truck ban.

More than 8,000 haulers use Metro Manila roads.

Truck owners earn P6,000 for deliveries within Metro Manila from Manila ports, P15,000 from Batangas and P16,000 from Subic, Zambales.

Copyright 2014 - The Manila Times, Philippines