INTERNATIONAL Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) said Monday operations at the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) have returned to normal levels after stakeholders responded to calls to withdraw their overstaying cargoes.

“Overall terminal utilization is now under 67% and reefer utilization at under 65%, with cargo pullouts during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) peaking last week,” the listed port operator said in a statement.

It added: “The pullouts last week do not include numerous containers of unclaimed cargo, carefully transferred to other yards and facilitated by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA). Moreover, all incoming ships are able to dock as scheduled, with no waiting time.”

PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago has said that the shutdown of Manila port terminals is possible if cargo owners and consignees do not heed the agency’s request to immediately remove their ready-for-delivery and overstaying cargoes.

ICTSI has also appealed to its consignees to withdraw their refrigerated containers immediately.

The company also offered an option for businesses that are unable to take delivery at their own facilities. It said they can utilize ICTSI’s off-site facilities in Laguna, Bulacan, or Cavite.

ICTSI executive Vice President Christian R. Gonzalez said: “Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our frontline employees and many port stakeholders, the terminal has been able to pull off this feat. Efforts should continue, however, to ensure that we have no repeat of the dangerously low level of pullouts we experienced at the end of March and in early April. The statistics have proven that the government-implemented exemptions for cargo and penalties for overstayers worked and that these, along with the efforts of importers, have avoided the unmanageable consequences we would have had if we did not respond as we did.”

He added: “With the continued ECQ, we cannot afford to be complacent. We must remember that there remains a significant amount of unclaimed cargo from well before March 2020, and we must ensure a free flow of cargo to facilitate the transport of critical food, medical supplies and basic necessities.” — Arjay L. Balinbin