11 July 2012

Market Forces To Dictate Shifting Container Traffic To Batangas, Subic

MANILA – Diverting container traffic to Batangas and Subic Ports to decongest Manila and maximize the two ports should not be mandated on business, and market forces be allowed to decide on this issue.

This was stressed by Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) president George Chua during a recent consultation meeting on the study to decongest Manila and divert container traffic to Subic and Batangas ports.

Earlier, the Export Development Council (EDC) and the Philippine Export Zone Authority (PEZA) claimed that one way to unclog the traffic jams in Metro Manila is to divert cargo trucks to Batangas and Subic.

This was supported by the findings of this study conducted by the Transport and Traffic Planners, Inc. (TPPI) engaged by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) that Manila Ports are congested.

Asian Terminals, Inc. (ATI) vice president Sean Perez stressed that there is no need to transfer cargoes from Manila to Batangas and Subic ports just to maximize the utilization of these ports.

Roberto Aquino, Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) acting manager for port operations said that his office has already submitted the one-year 50 percent tariff discount proposal to the Office of the President to entice shippers to use Batangas and Subic ports.

Incentives and discounts in wharfage fees and tariff rates are also available at the Subic Port and yet shipping lines are not coming, said Captain Perfecto Pascual of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

Several studies were conducted since 1994 to promote Batangas and Subic Ports. Recently, JICA conducted the Subic Port marketing study to trigger this port utilization by focusing promotions on logistics players in the Northern-Central Luzon areas such as Pampanga, Zambales, Tarlac, Bataan, Pangasinan and Bulacan.

In explaining the results of the study, TPPI said that a 2010 study showed that port traffic for loaded containers reached almost 500,000 TEUs in Manila South Harbor and nearly 1.2 million TEUs in the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT).

On the other hand, in the same year, port traffic in containerized cargo reached nearly 6.2 million metric tons (MT) in Manila South Harbor and almost 17 million MT in MICT

In contrast during the same period, traffic for loaded containers at Batangas and Subic ports only reached 622 TEUs and 25,000 TEUs, respectively and nearly 9,000 MT and nearly 400,000 MT at Batangas and Subic Ports respectively.

The study further showed that the congestion in Manila ports is due to vehicles going to and from the port. Report from the Average Daily Traffic (ADT) last year showed that 43 percent of these vehicles is comprised of private vehicles, trucks or trailer at 20 percent, jeepneys, ten percent; and two-axle trucks, nine percent.

MICT has six berths, making it the largest port in the country. Meanwhile, South Harbor has only three, Batangas port with two and Subic port with one berth. Berths are support to provide sufficient distance for a ship to maneuver and help the seamless facilitation of the country's growing international trade.

The infrastructure has allowed MICT's annual capacity to grow to 2.5 million TEUs from 1.9 million TEUs, while South Harbor retained its 850,000 TEUs and 300,000 TEUs for Batangas and Subic ports.

To encourage port users to utilize the Batangas and Subic ports, the study team presented lower costs in stevedoring in Batangas and Subic with P4,985 and P1,801 for a 40-foot container, respectively compared with P5,584 for the same load in Manila ports.

Meanwhile, arrastre charges at Batangas and Subic Ports only cost P5,773 and P2,870 for a 40-foot export container compared with P6,077 in Manila ports.

Storage costs are however more costly in Subic Port with P224 for a 40-footer export container compared with P120 in Batangas and Manila ports. A 40-footer import container will cost P895 in Subic and P481 in Batangas and Manila ports. (Edu Lopez, Manila Bulletin)