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Ports regulator sees long road back to recovery in cargo traffic

THE Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) said Wednesday that it may take time for cargo traffic to recover to pre-pandemic levels, projecting growth of only 7% this year.

Medyo malayo layo tayo makahabol sa pre-pandemic levels… Bumagsak ang cargo level natin (We are some distance from pre-pandemic levels… Cargo volume really dropped),” PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago said at an online briefing.

In his presentation, Mr. Santiago reported that cargo volume in 2020 declined 13.51% to 230.43 million metric tons (mmt).

The agency said cargo volume is expected to grow 7.06% to 246.70 mmt this year. Volume is projected at 249.17 mmt in 2022 and 256.29 mmt in 2023.

Ang paglago ng ekonomiya ang magpapalaki ng cargo traffic (The economic recovery will drive any growth in cargo traffic),” Mr. Santiago said.

He described PPA’s forecast as “optimistically conservative” considering the ongoing public health crisis.

Meanwhile, passenger volume dropped 70.39% to 24.79 million last year. Mr. Santiago said the agency expects passenger volume to grow 4.24% to 25.84 million this year.

Passenger volume is expected to hit 26.10 million in 2022 and 26.79 million in 2023.

Mr. Santiago also reported the completion of port projects in Mindoro, Romblon, Dumaguete, Bohol, Leyte, Cagayan de Oro, Samal Island, and Surigao del Sur.

The agency, he noted, continues to implement coronavirus health protocols at ports, including mandatory use of a contact tracing application, a ‘No Face Mask-No Face Shield-No Entry’ policy, mandatory thermal scanning, and use of e-payment systems for port charges, among others. — Arjay L. Balinbin

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