A local shipping line chief executive on Wednesday urged the government to ensure that shipping and cargo gateways are free of obstructions to further improve their operations.
“While port operators, like International Container Terminal Services Inc. and Asian Terminals Inc., have invested heavily to modernize ports in Luzon for international operations, the government must do its part in ensuring that these shipping and cargo gateways are free of obstructions,” said Doris Magsaysay-Ho, whose family owns the Magsaysay Group of Companies.
“International ports have made significant investments and can contribute valuable revenue to the government,” Magsaysay-Ho said.
“However, it is important for the government to improve the vital performance of ports with ‘a whole-of-government approach’ working on solutions’ outside the port,” Magsaysay-Ho said.
She said to achieve the full potential of ports as a nucleus of the economy, these facilities should not only be gateways but full logistics hubs with spaces for inland container depots, stripping, agricultural facilities, cold storage, inspection and certification of products to enable efficient distribution of goods for export and import.
Crucial to her proposal to create a network of “portropolis,” which means ports becoming the heart of burgeoning economies, is the removal of obstructions that restrict quick and efficient movement of cargo.
“The roads, that are the arteries to and from the port must be free and clear of illegal business fees charged by the LGUs [local government units],” Maysaysay-Ho said.
She said clearing these roads of all sources of congestion would make the movement of goods faster from ports by cargo trucks and to shippers.
“Ideally, obstacles along these arteries are cleared, so we can lift truck bans which prevent a trucker to maximize the use of the asset and lower charges,” Magsaysay-Ho said.
She said shipping remained the most economical way to deliver cargo by volumes.
“Some high-end priced goods or those needing speed, may use air cargo services but shipping is still the most economical way to ship goods especially in volume,” Magsaysay-Ho said.
Around 90 percent of all goods is transported via ships, she added.
She said the supply bottlenecks the country saw at the height of the COVID pandemic and surge in freight and land transport costs served as lessons on how to achieve better shipping and logistics operations.
“It is important for the government to acknowledge that shipping and logistics are ‘critical infrastructures’ needed for the country’s development and are not impediments,” she said.
“But the work we must do must be long-term policies and solutions, not short term ones. The long-term solution will require an ‘all of government approach to infrastructure planning,” she said.
Magsaysay-Ho also noted that it is important to design the country’s shipping and logistics infrastructures around the needs importation, exports and inter-island trade.