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PPA sees monitoring system reducing logistics costs

THE Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) said its upcoming Trusted Operator Program-Container Registry and Monitoring System, or TOP-CRMS, will help reduce logistics costs by eliminating the container deposits charged by shipping lines to truckers, brokers, and forwarders.

The monitoring system, which has attracted a backlash, will also cut costs incurred by truckers on the road by helping them anticipate unavailable yard slots when they return empty containers, PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago said at a briefing on Wednesday.

TOP-CRMS, a P900-million PPA digitalization project, is expected to be implemented within the first half of the year, according to Mr. Santiago.

“There are still certain regulatory and legal compliances that we need to undertake,” he said.

In July, Transportation Secretary Jaime J. Bautista urged the PPA to work towards reducing the cost of shipping and travel.

According to Mr. Santiago, port charges account for only 2-5% of total logistics costs.

All other charges such as freight charges of shipping lines, trucking charges, container handling charges of private container yards, and warehousing costs are “not regulated,” he said.

“We can only do so much in terms of minimizing or regulating the regulated charges. But we are not immune to the need to lower logistics costs, which is why we are working to reduce the incremental costs in the logistics chain.”

Using TOP-CRMS, the PPA is proposing to “eliminate the container deposit and replace it with container deposit insurance,” Mr. Santiago noted.

He said that container deposits charged by shipping lines range from P10,000 to P30,000 for dry containers and up to P180,000 for refrigerated containers. Container deposits are required by shipping lines to ensure that their containers are returned undamaged.

With TOP-CRMS, Mr. Santiago said, such amounts will be reduced to a P980 container monitoring fee, inclusive of container deposit insurance for missing or damaged containers.

The monitoring system also hopes to address the problems encountered by truckers when returning empty containers.

Shipping lines give truckers between three and five days to return empty containers, and charge them for exceeding five days, according to Mr. Santiago.

Truckers are also charged P1,000 to schedule the return of the empty containers, he added.

Truckers are sometimes advised by shipping lines to return their containers to a specific container yard only to be informed that there is no more space, Mr. Santiago added.

“So the trucker will either wait, or risk fines for parking or staying on the road even during the truck ban,” he said.

Such costs are ultimately passed on to the consumer, according to the PPA chief.

With TOP-CRMS, the PPA will accredit or designate yards for empty containers.

“Initially, the PPA has designated one yard in Bulacan, which is a minimum of 10 hectares expandable to 18. We have also identified yards in Laguna. We are willing to accredit or designate yards within the port area… provided that they commit to a certain number of slots that they will make available for the system, and they have to be integrated into our system including their CCTVs to monitor the condition of each container for damage or dispute assessment and resolution purposes,” Mr. Santiago said.

Under the proposal, truckers returning empty containers will pay P900 per lodgement. Before the release of the containers, they will pay another P3,408 in handling fees.

“Any PPA-accredited empty container yard cannot refuse acceptance because all of the available slots will be seen on a dashboard. They will have no reason to reject acceptance,” Mr. Santiago said. — Arjay L. Balinbin

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