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Sep 30 19, 2:21 pm

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Tracking down bottlenecks: Here’s why holiday balikbayan boxes do not arrive on time

by | EDITOR’S CHOICE, News

Sep. 30, 19 | 2:21 pm

For three weeks, Janissa Flaminiano (not real name) meticulously planned the items that she will ship to Manila as gifts for her husband, her children, parents and siblings last holiday season. She said the previous balikbayan boxes that she send two Christmases ago came late. So, for Christmas 2018, she went to the freight forwarder and handed over her box in September.

However, December 25, 2018 came and the box did not arrive on time. Her Christmas presents — the only reminder of her love for her family despite her absence — came two weeks later. She was so pissed at the forwarder but she was told the balikbayan boxes arrived earlier but were not immediately released at the port. When asked why, she was just simply told — they don’t know.

The Filipino Times asked leaders of the Philippine shipping and logistics industry at a business forum hosted by the Manila Times today (September 30): What’s seems to be the delay in the balikbayan boxes?

Jay Daniel Santiago, general manager of the Philippine Ports Authority, said the problem lies with the freight forwarders and not at the port.

“The overseas workers or any Filipinos residents abroad expect that the balikbayan boxes they send to the Philippines will be shipped immediately. More often that not, forwarders consolidate all of these boxes so they can save on transportation and shipping costs.

“If you happen to be the earlier ones who put in the cargo and they will have to fill in the containers, you will probably wait til the container is filled before the forwarder actually ships the entire container to the Philippines. So there’s going to be some lag time there.” Santiago told TFT.

Santiago said “as far as the PPA is concerned” — as soon as the containers arrived at the port, they immediately process them.

Christian Martin Gonzalez, global head of the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) which operates the Manila International Container Terminal in Manila, is equally baffled as some of the OFWs who experienced delays in their balikbayan boxes.

He recalled that his wife once sent a box to him from San Francisco. When he traced the package, it arrived at the Subic port on the September 18, and left Subic port on September 20 but he only got it on September 26.

“So what happened in those six days? Hindi ko alam. Was it trucking, was it regulation? I don’t know,” Gonzalez said.

The ICTSI executive said it usually takes less than two weeks for a ship to travel from Los Angeles to Manila, and from the Middle East, shipment would take even shorter, probably a one to one and a half weeks. And after the shipping period, what happens two weeks after upon arrival to port until it goes to the OFW family?

Right now, it seems the “issues” are not clear how long should balikbayan boxes should stay at the port and how much time it would take for the forwarder to actually deliver the boxes to the doorstep of the OFW family.

Sometimes, Gonzalez said, OFWs or Filipino residents abroad go to forwarders which offer the cheapest rate. But is the cheapest rate really worth it, or is it the cheapest offer because they are also the slowest in delivering the shipment?

“I’d encouraged the shipper to demand, how far would this rate go? Consumer should take the freight forwarder to task,” he added.

Santiago said the government could not fault freight forwarders for cutting down costs.

However, the PPA general manager said, freight forwarders need to be “transparent” by allowing their customers to track down every step of their shipment and to set deadline for a date of delivery so “expectations are managed.”

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THE FILIPINO TIMES is the biggest and most trusted Filipino newspaper in the UAE.

It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 2.5 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

THE FILIPINO TIMES. We are where the Filipinos are.

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