Philippines keeps ports open to all ships despite virus fears

The Philippines said last week that its ports remained open to all ships, even those from China. It said that it was doing this so as to keep open the cargo supply chain. However, the Philippines said that the crew of vessels arriving from China would be barred from disembarking. All foreigners travelling from China, including Hong Kong and Macau, were barred from entering the Philippines.

There were concerns at possible delays in shipments of Philippine nickel ore to China as a result of the port restrictions.

Jay Daniel Santiago, general manager at Philippine Ports Authority, said that “as far as the ships are concerned, as far as the cargoes are concerned, we are business as usual”.

He said that the ports were “fully mechanized” to facilitate cargo loading and unloading with minimal human intervention.

Nickel ore miners in the Philippines usually resume shipments to their Chinese customers beginning March or April, after a seasonal stoppage starting in Q4 2019. “We have not yet started shipping out nickel ore, but we anticipate this virus outbreak in China would have no impact on the demand side,” according to Dante Bravo, president of Global Ferronickel Holdings Inc, the Philippines’ second-largest nickel ore producer and exporter. Speaking to Reuters he said that “we believe

this issue will be resolved soon given all the contingency measures put in place by all the parties concerned.”

Singapore To increase maritime security task force to deal with piracy

Singapore has said that it plans to restructure its Maritime Security Task Force (MSTF) and increase its assets to deal with piracy in the Strait of Malacca.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said last week in a written reply to a parliamentary question that  the review was “expected to be complete in the next few months”.

Dr Ng noted that the number of piracy and sea robbery in the waterway fluctuated considerably from year to year.

However, this weekend a further two incidents were reported, possibly by the same perpetrator(s) who have not been caught.