13 October 2014

Manila truckers pledged to ensure road safety in Subic

Operators and drivers of cargo-hauling companies and truckers’ groups vowed to follow traffic rules strictly enforced here to ensure road safety and efficient flow of container vans at the newly-designated Manila extension port in this Freeport.

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) recently held a “Traffic Summit” with firms engaged in shipping and other port-related businesses to discuss measures on ensuring efficient traffic flow of container trucks in the Freeport and avoiding congestion.

SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia said with the expected arrival of ships that will unload container vans, it is very important that the Port of Subic does not get congested or it will defeat the purpose of promoting Subic as an alternative port to Manila.

During the summit, participating truckers signed a road safety manifesto pledging support and cooperation with the SBMA to ensure road safety in the Freeport zone. The manifesto was also signed by concerned units from the Bureau of Customs and the Subic Bay International Terminal Corporation (SBITC) which operates New Container Terminals 1 & 2.

“We’ve been informed that within the next two weeks or so, there will be ships that will be coming to unload and use Subic as an extension port,” Garcia said.

Garcia added that because of this development, Subic’s container port intake is expected to grow from 38,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) last year to 70,000 TEUs this year.

While the increase in volume would mean a significant increase in Subic port revenues, Garcia emphasized the importance of the Subic Port not to get congested just like what happened to Batangas after just one month of serving as an extension port to Manila.

He said that the Batangas problem had led Toyota (Philippines) to unload its shipment in Subic because its ship could not berth in Batangas. However, the firm had to drive its cargo containers all the way to Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

“I don’t want the same thing to happen to Subic, so we need to be very efficient with the inflow and outflow of containers,” Garcia said.

Garcia also stressed that Subic has to be prepared for more cargo traffic because of reports that it was not only the Port of Manila that is congested, but also some major Asian ports like Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

“This is going to have a ripple effect,” Garcia said.

The SBMA official also revealed that another shipping company, the NYK, is seriously thinking of establishing a Subic-Singapore route. He also added that there were reports about a planned Shanghai-Subic route, which will open China on a more direct basis, instead of passing through Khaoshiung, Taiwan.

“Subic is really lucky because we are the only port on the Western seaboard of the Philippines that has the capacity at this point in time. Manila is congested. Batangas is congested. I hope we get congested soon, but that will be a happy problem,” Garcia said.

“Things are looking good for Subic as far as that’s concerned,” he added. (RBB)