09 September 2014

Is Subic prepared for port congestion?

While government think tanks take a long, hard look at Subic Bay as, perhaps, the solution to the worsening congestion at Manila ports, the question now looms: “Is Subic Freeport ready to take on the challenge?”

Valenzuela City Representative Sherwin Gatchalian has filed a resolution for the house panel to conduct an inquiry into the viability of Subic Freeport in sharing the load of processing containers in order to decongest port operations in Manila.

If Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Robert Garcia were to answer the question, he would have no hesitation in saying that Subic is ready to take the challenge.

“Subic Freeport’s New Container Terminals (NCTs) are more than capable of handling its fair share of container vans,” said Garcia.

He said that the NCTs can handle 300,000 container vans each and that the current volume of Twenty-footer Equivalent Units (TEUs) is only six percent of what Subic Freeport can handle.

Rest assured, he said, that it is business as usual for cargo handling in Subic as the agency is segregating the Subic shipment from the TEUs being transferred from Manila.

“Operations in Subic Freeport would still be the same as their work won’t be hampered by the proposed transfer of cargoes in Manila. Subic locators would still have their own space for their shipments,” Garcia said.

Aside from cargo handling operations, Garcia is also eyeing a road that will connect the NCTs to the Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) that will not affect Subic Freeport road users. The proposed road would cost P2 billion and would cut through a path behind the Subic Techno Park to avoid taking the usual roads in Subic, shortening the travel time for cargo handlers.

But the proposed road would still have to wait since the agency does not have enough funds to finance the construction. Garcia hopes that the national government would fund the proposed road. (Jonas Reyes, Manila Bulletin)