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More Manila traffic woes as shipping expands

More Manila traffic woes as shipping expands
A trade expert and former Cabinet secretary under the Ramos administration said the government should come up with a policy that would move shipping traffic to ports outside Metro Manila, a crucial shift in reviving the manufacturing sector.

Cielito F. Habito, who heads the Philippines- and USAID-led Trade-Related Assistance for Development (TRADE) project, told reporters on Thursday the government could not rely on market forces to correct the flow, warning that the problem would only “self-perpetuate.”

He said there should be a move to reduce the capacity of Manila ports, or at least to keep them from expanding in order to allow other ports to grow.

This comes on the heels of Manila International Container Terminal’s (MICT) plans to expand current capacity. MICT is the country’s largest container terminal.

“Any expansion of port capacity has to happen outside the Metro Manila area to deliberately decongest Metro Manila,” he said.

Habito, former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and former Director General of the National Economic Development Authority, said there should be a “reduction of capacity in Manila ports” in the medium to long term.

He said the economy suffered during the peak of the port congestion problem years back. While this drove some traffic to the Batangas and Subic ports, the system remained Manila-centric because operational costs were lower.

He noted the manufacturing sector would be needing the much needed boost, considering it makes “more quality jobs” compared to the services sector.

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