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Manila truck ban to trigger price hike

Manila, Philippines — Expect increase in prices of retail goods a month from now as a result of the Manila truck ban.

This was the projection of Confederation of Truckers Association of the Philippines (CTAP) Director Bert Suansing, citing the 1991 experience of truckers on a similar “experiment” that prohibited truckers on the streets during daytime.

Basic commodities may see a 30-percent increase in retail prices as truckers and importers struggle to cope with the impact of the new ordinance meant to alleviate the traffic congestion in the capital city.

Suansing said that in 1991, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) asked truckers to conduct their businesses during nighttime for a couple of weeks. The “experiment” resulted in an increase of trucking prices by 50 percent and increase in prices of retail goods by 30 percent.

Under the current truck ban in Manila, truckers are prohibited from traversing city roads from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. effective February 24.

However, after a three-day protest by truckers the city government made an adjustment by creating a “window hour” from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to allow trucks top traverse city roads during this period.

Despite this, truckers and port operators are still convinced the public will suffer from the adverse impacts of the truck ban.

“We’ll just pass it on to consumers whatever the incurred losses are due to delay in the delivery of cargos. What we are trying to address here is there should be less time where the cargo stays in the truck. Because of the truck ban measure, the cargo stays in the truck longer than necessary,” Suansing said in a media conference following a consultative meeting with stakeholders at the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) yesterday.

Christian Gonzales, head of Asia operations of International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ITCSI), warned of a possible massive backlog of shipments in ports and in warehouses.

According to Gonzales, approximately 3,800 import container vans arrive in Manila ports in a week. In the old set up, which allows truckers to move cargos for 15 hours, he said they could “barely” get by although they were able to complete their transactions because of dedicated truck routes. Under the new policy, there should be a way to release 3,800 import container vans promptly in order to ensure flow of trade, Gonzales said.