01 December 2014

Subic expands port, road for P11B

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority is expanding Subic port as well as build a new road that will directly connect to SCTEX (Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway) for an estimated cost of P11 billion in preparation of a huge spill over from the Manila port three years from now.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Roberto Garcia told reporters during an interview at the recent Manila Ports Summit that the expansion of the port could cost P7 billion while the new road at P4 billion.

“This expansion is immediate because the volume of cargoes going to Manila is expected to reach 6 million twenty-footer equivalent units (TEUs) in two to three years the existing 3 million TEUs at present,” he said. Of the 3 million TEUs, 15 percent of that comes from the northern and central Luzon areas, which could easily shift to Subic.

“We are in the process of updating an old study of the seaport so we can submit this proposal to NEDA and we can start this project immediately because it will take three years to build a new port and a road network,” Garcia said.

Garcia explained that the two ports in New Container Terminal 1 and 2, which are owned and operated by Subic ICTSI Inc., a unit of International Container Terminal Services Inc., have berthing capacity of 300,000 TEUs each or a combined capacity of 600,000 TEUs.

The current Subic port cargo volume is only 75,000 TEUs or at least 15 percent port capacity. But with 4 international shipping lines (SITC, APL, Wan Hai and NYK) now calling in Subic, they have opened the freeport to wider international coverage that includes China, Jàpan, Taiwan and Singapore.

“These four shipping lines are expected to boost cargo volume to 250,000 to 300,000 TEUs next year,” he said.

This means NCT 1 and 2 could increase their capacity utilization to 30 percent by next year already.

“If we don’t expand the port now, it might be too late when cargoes in Manila reach 6 M TEUs in three years,” he added. Subic and Batangas ports have been designated by the government as alternative Manila ports following the port congestion in Manila.

Garcia said they have already identified another 15-hectare lot for the new port. SBMA may bid out the new port, he said.

The other component in the SBMA plan is to construct a bypass road that will run through Bataan and into the SCTEX.

Garcia stressed that the current TIPO road is running out of capacity with 68 trucks an hour plying this Clark-Subic expressway.

‘So even if we don’t expand the port we still have to build this new road,” he added. It will be a 23-kilometer bypass road that will run through Bataan and into SCTEX.

“This is the long term solution to the Manila port congestion, but this can happen in the short term,” he said.

Meantime, Garcia said that SBMA revenues in the first ten months this year went up by 21 percent while operating revenues grew 42 percent. Combined with unrealized foreign exchange savings in 2013 and 2014, the freeport is expected to post 152 percent increase in net income this year over last year, which was already a record year.

Revenues this year could exceed the P2.5-billion target for the year. For 2015, Garcia expects revenues to reach P2.8 billion largely driven by higher port revenues.

SBMA is the 9th biggest government-owned and controlled corporation revenue contributor to the national coffers with P243 million in cash dividends to the government in 2013. (Bernie Magkilat, Manila Bulletin)

BUSY PORT – Hauling trucks and reach stackers move some of the container vans in Subic Bay Freeport at the New Container Terminal-1 in Subic Bay Freeport. Manila port has transferred most of its overstaying cargoes to Subic to help ease the port congestion felt in Manila. (Jonas Reyes)