22 September 2014

Cap on Manila ports expansion pushed

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has proposed to the government to place a cap on the Manila ports’ expansion and facilitate diversion of cargo volume to Batangas and Subic ports to decongest roads to Manila.

JICA cited the need to “shift cargo-handling function of Metro Manila to Subic and Batangas through controlling of future expansion of Manila ports and providing incentives to use Subic and Batangas ports,” in its study on the Roadmap for Transport Infrastructure Development for Metro Manila and Its Surrounding Areas.

Based on the JICA proposed short-term program for 2014 to 2016, there are over P12 billion expansion and modernization projects in the Manila port, which include P6 billion for North Harbor, P1 billion for South Harbor and P4 billion for Manila International Container Terminal (MICT).

Also, there is the proposed feasibility study for North Harbor redevelopment worth P75 million and for other port expansion and modernization worth P1 billion.

“The planned expansion projects for Manila ports recommended for rescheduling to promote diversion of cargo to Batangas and Subic ports as well as decongest road to Manila,” JICA said in the study conducted in March 2013 to March 2014.

JICA’s “proposed concept for gateway port development” is to “maximize capacities and development opportunities of (the) three ports.”

As part of the initiatives to decongest the Manila port, President Aquino declared the ports of Batangas and Subic as extensions of the Port of Manila in response to the present port congestion problem.

Last month, the Office of the President also approved the reduction of port charges and other vessel-handling related fees at the Port of Batangas and that paid by port operator International Container Terminals Services, Inc. (ICTSI).

The move is to attract more direct callers and port users to the Batangas Port while incentivizing MICT operator ICTSI for its share in de-clogging the Ports of Manila.

Direct callers at Batangas get 90 percent discount on port dues from the existing fee of $0.081 per gross revenue ton (GRT) per day to only $0.008 per GRT per day, as well as a 90 percent cut in dockage-at-berth from $0.039 per GRT to only $0.004 per GRT per day.

The new rates, however, will be applicable only for six months. The discount for the succeeding six months will be reduced to 50 percent for both, or from $0.081 GRT per day to $0.040 per GRT per day and from $0.039 per GRT to $0.020 per GRT per day. (Malaya Business Insight)