Manila truck ban feared to affect prices of goods in GenSan

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/01 September) — Business leaders here warned of drastic increases in the coming months in the prices of various commodities that are shipped through the ports of Manila if the continuing truck ban in the area was not lifted or resolved.

Manuel Yaphockun, former president of the General Santos City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (GSCCCII), said Monday a number of local businesses are now starting to feel the impact of Manila’s city-wide truck ban with the delayed arrival of goods to the area.

He said it mainly affected the delivery of imported goods coming in through Manila’s south harbor and those manufactured in parts of Luzon that are shipped out from the north harbor.

Manila’s south harbor is the country’s main entry point for imported commodities while the north harbor caters to domestic shipping operations.

In February, the city government of Manila banned cargo trucks from its main thoroughfares from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., a move that triggered backlogs in deliveries to, through and from the ports of Manila.

Covered by the ban are cargo trucks, gravel and sand trucks, cement mixers, eight-wheelers and any truck with a gross vehicle weight of at least 4,500 kilograms.

“It now take weeks for shipments from Manila to arrive here and the situation has so far affected the availability or supply of some vital goods,” said Yaphockun, who is among the area’s biggest suppliers of hardware and construction materials.

He said such problem specifically affected some hardware materials, some of which are imported from other countries.

Yaphockun urged the national government to look into the situation and set some remedial measures regarding the impact of the truck ban.

“This (truck ban) problem is not only affecting Manila and the neighboring areas but also us here in Mindanao,” he said.

If the problem will continue unresolved, he said it could eventually trigger significant increases in shipping and other related costs.

“Freight costs are going to go up and that means additional burden later on for our consumers,” he said.

Raymund Salangsang, GSCCCII vice president, said the truck ban could later on affect the availability and prices of some Noche Buena or Christmas holiday products.

These include ham, fruit cocktail, cheese and sandwich spread, mayonnaise, queso de bola, pasta and spaghetti, elbow and salad macaroni, spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce and creamer.

He said some of the top Noche Buena items are either manufactured abroad or have imported ingredients that enter the country through the ports of Manila.

Imported goods that enter the country have to pass through the Manila ports and the Bureau of Customs there before they are shipped to the domestic markets, including this city, he said.

“So we’re also affected (by the truck ban). It should be addressed decisively the soonest possible time by the national government before it affects the inflow of goods for the coming holidays,” Salangsang said. (MindaNews)