Govt moves to decongest Manila ports as peak season starts | SubicNewsLink

29 August 2014

Govt moves to decongest Manila ports as peak season starts

PORT authorities have started to ship out overstaying containers to Subic to partly decongest the ports in Manila in anticipation of the start of the pre-Christmas peak season that is expected to start next week.

The chartered vessel, MV Asterix, left the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) on Thursday en route to Subic carrying 1,154 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). The vessel is expected to be back in Manila over the weekend to carry the remaining overstaying containers.

The government, through the Bureau of Customs, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and port operators International Container Terminal Services Inc. and Asian Terminals Inc., has identified about 3,000 TEUs that can be relocated and is in the process of identifying several more to be moved out of Manila.

“The shipping out of these overstaying containers is only one of the few measures aimed at unclogging the ports before the start of the peak season,” PPA General Manager Juan C. Sta. Ana said. “This will be complemented by the increase in storage fees that will encourage shippers to get their cargoes immediately instead of leaving them inside and use the ports as virtual warehouses.”

“This will enable the port of Manila to have sufficient port space to take in the influx of cargoes needed for the Christmas season, which is expected to come in toward the end of next month,” he added.

The port chief noted that, while the ports will remain a bit congested in terms of yard capacity, the productivity and efficiency of the two Manila ports are slowly returning back to normal in time for the expected spike in cargo volume.

The MICT, the country’s top international gateway, has an annual capacity of 2.5 million TEUs. It has a surplus capacity of more than 1 million TEUs for the year, as it only handled about 1.1 million TEUs thus far.

The Manila South Harbor, operated by Asian Terminals Inc., has an annual capacity of 1.3 million TEUs. It has so far handled 800,000 TEUs and has an excess capacity of about 500,000 TEUs more.

“While it seems that we have a shortage in yard space, it doesn’t mean we don’t have enough capacity. We have the capacity, we just have to work at a slower pace compared to last year,” Sta. Ana explained.

As of the moment, yard utilization at the two Manila ports has returned to 90 percent, brought about by the long weekend. Nonetheless, utilization is expected to go back down to 88 percent at week’s end, after containers being released at the ports continue to climb from 4,200 a day to about 4,400 a day.

Productivity and efficiency at MICT, on the other hand, has already reached 20 moves an hour, a significant improvement from the 10 to 12 moves an hour two months ago, while MSH productivity has jumped to 15 moves an hour from only eight moves an hour during the same period.

The PPA, along with the port operators, meanwhile, is trying to maintain the number of empties inside the ports at 12,000 TEUs as it also slowly takes in the 20,000 containers at foreign ports.

As of end-June, the number of laden containers piled up at the Manila ports totaled 85,000 TEUs, which occupied about 104 percent of the yard of the ports, while the total of empty containers also reached a high of 22,000 TEUs.

The congestion was caused mainly by the daytime truck ban imposed by the city government of Manila from February 24 to end- May of this year, which practically limited the movement of cargoes in and out of the ports during nighttime only. (Lorenz S. Marasigan, BusinessMirror)