DOTr to int’l shipping lines: Implement minimum of 8 days as free time period for cargoes unloaded in all ports

(Eagle News)–The Department of Transportation on Wednesday, July 8, reminded international shipping lines to implement a minimum of eight days of free time period for consignees.

Free time period refers to the period of discharge of cargoes from the ship to the port, in this case, all ports of the country.

In a statement, the DOTr said the directive for the extension of the free period from the usual three days to five days, was contained in Department Order No. 2020-009 signed by Transportation Secretary Art Tugade, which aims to help consignees financially cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by unburdening them of  demurrage and detention charges that may accrue to substantial amounts due to delays in cargo pickup.

Shipping lines impose a demurrage charge in cases where the consignee has not taken the delivery of the container and moves it out of the port/terminal area for unpacking within the allowed free days instead.

A detention charge,  on the other hand, is levied by the shipping line in cases where the consignee has taken the container out of the terminal area for unpacking but has not returned the empty container to the depot before the expiry of the allowed free days.

“Sa pandemic ho na ito, lahat tayo ay apektado. Naiintindihan natin kung mayroong delays. Pero hindi dapat gawing dahilan ito ng ilan para mag-take advantage sa kanilang kapwa. Kailangang lahat ay tumulong upang magsagawa ng kritikal, agaran at nararapat na pagtugon para maprotektahan ang mga mamamayan sa epekto ng COVID-19,”  Tugade said.

The DOTr said international shipping lines were also not prevented from granting cargo free time period beyond the minimum of eight days.

They were also urged to apply the department order to cargoes and shipments discharged prior to the order’s effectivity, especially to cargoes discharged during the modified enhanced community quarantine.

Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago expressed  full support, saying that the policy will provide shippers and importers with flexibility in processing their shipments without fear of additional costs especially during these difficult times.

“Through this effort of extending the free time period of shipping lines for cargoes from the regular 5 days to 8, shippers and importers will have more flexibility in processing their shipments without fear of additional costs especially during these times where operations of both government and private offices are limited,” Santiago said.

He expressed hope “whatever positive impact this cost saving initiative will have on shippers and importers will trickle down to end-users and consumers.”