Learn from truck ban–Almendras
Legislators should not forget the lessons learned from the Manila truck ban last year, which had been identified as one of the factors that contributed to port congestion.
Emphasizing this point during a recent Senate hearing on port congestion, Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras said Congress should consider enacting a measure that would prevent cities or municipalities from imposing rules that would have detrimental effects on the national interest.
This would be necessary to prevent a similar problem from turning up again, he said.
Almendras noted that places outside Manila that enforced the truck ban also severely compromised the flow of goods.
“For legislative interest, maybe there is a need to create a certain mechanism that will not allow a local government unit to hold the national interest hostage to an individual action in a small area,” he said at the hearing.
According to Almendras, delivery trucks should not be arbitrarily banned from roads, especially since they carry cargo important to businesses.
“Nobody can say I do not like the color of your truck, therefore you can’t pass through this road when I’m awake. And it’s even bad for the economy of the locality. I tried to explain it to somebody that that’s not good for your location because you’re driving away businesses,” he said.
“So rather than create the impression that the trucks create a problem, my proposition has always been that cargo is a necessity. If you do not want to see trucks, then you better find a way not to eat. We have to move food and we have to move goods,” he said.
Almendras said there were other measures that helped resolve the port congestion problem such as a better dispatch system, the use of truck lanes and weekend deliveries.
But what was learned from the experience was the importance of keeping a continuous flow of movement in order to prevent the creation of a pileup, which the constricted capacity would never be able to handle, he said.
According to Almendras, the experience of addressing the port crisis has established cooperation and opened up channels of communication between different sectors.
But he expressed fears that all the work could be undone by just one action.
“One factor that I am scared of that can create a similar event, if not a worse event, is a single act by one entity that will stifle the flow of goods that will impact the whole economy,” he said.
Sen. Bam Aquino, who presided over the hearing, said he would consider Almendras’ suggestion.
Aquino said a new law may not even be necessary as the provisions could be included as an amendment to the Local Government Code.
Aquino said Manila ports had been decongested and operations were nearly back to normal. The only problem is that shipping charges remain high even after the easing of the congestion.
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