MANILA – An official of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said Thursday the yard utilization in two major ports in the country has improved since last week.

“For now, we are monitoring the yard utilization of our two major ports, Port of Manila and MICP, regarding issues of port congestion. Starting last week, it seems our yard utilization have normalized. Seventy percent is within the normal range and this is within the international standards which dictate normal percentage of yard utilization,” Customs Assistant Commissioner Jet Maronilla said in a phone interview during a Laging Handa briefing.

Yard utilization refers to the ratio of number of storage slots (number of containers on hand) to the number of available slots in a port.

Maronilla also assured the immediate release of containers that are pending and forthcoming in the MICP, the county’s biggest port, as the electronic-to-mobile (E2M) computer system and skeletal forces are back in place.

“Our E2M connection is stable and we have restored skeletal forces at the MICP. After their self-quarantine, we expect improved service from them and the release of pending containers and containers which are set to arrive will be expedited,” he said.

Last week, the E2M system had a technical problem prompting the Bureau to tap the manual release of import shipments to ensure continuous port operation.

The MICP was temporarily closed last month for disinfection after one of its personnel tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

“We are also coordinating with other agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture so that we will be able to expedite processing of these essential items,” he added.

Maronilla added that the BOC is keeping a tight watch against those who would take advantage of expedited procedures to smuggle contraband and non-essential items during the public health emergency situation. (PNA)

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