30 August 2009

SBMA to lease out terminal for 4 years

THE Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has decided to just lease its New Container Terminal 2 (NCT-2) rather than put it up for bidding and risk another failed bid as a result of the current economic slump experienced worldwide.

SBMA seaport department strategic planning head Lynette de la Cruz said they had decided to lease the property to manufacturing firm Bechtel Corp. for the next four years in order to have some cash flow and pay for the loan used to develop the terminal.

“Bechtel will use NCT-2 as its hub for four years. By that time, we expect that the current financial crisis will be over, and we could generate enough interest from the international market for our terminal,” de la Cruz said.

“After the lease contract, we will immediately resume with the privatization of the port. But as of now, we are more concerned in paying up our loan,” de la Cruz added.

She said the said company will use the port, which has a capacity to handle up to 300,000 twenty-foot equivalent units as its hub for its aluminum and electrical modules. The company will be paying SBMA about $1.10 per square meter per day.

She did not state the entire contract cost.

According to the original schedule as agreed upon by SBMA and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, the procurement of the operator for the NCT-2 should not be later than the second quarter in 2008.

SBMA tried to privatize NCT-2 in April, but forced to declare it a failed bid. All of the four qualified bidders, which included Manila-based port operators Asian Terminals Inc.  International Container Terminal Services Inc., and Harbour Centre Port Terminals Inc. did not submit their respective bids due to economic reasons.

When fully privatized, SBMA placed the potential annual revenues for the port at $6 million.

The annual lease for the port, which has a lifespan of 50 years, will be enough to shoulder the $60-million loan from JBIC used to partly fund the project, it earlier said.

The government wants international shipping lines as the major operator for NCT-2 to ensure a strong cargo volume. According to the bid invitation sent out earlier by SBMA’s bids and awards committee, the contract will be for the operation, management and maintenance of the NCT-2 as a transshipment hub.

The said port, located in Cubi Point in Subic, has a 14-hectare container yard, a 280-meter -long wharf, two units of 53-ton-capacity quay gantry cranes, as well as other buildings, equipment and utilities. It can accommodate big container ships, including Panamax vessels. (VC Cabuag, Business Mirror Online)