MANILA, Philippines – The government has begun shipping out overstaying containers to Subic to free up space at Manila ports as the “–ber” months – the peak season for cargo shipment – start.
The chartered vessel, MV Asterix, left the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) at Thursday morning, August 28, en route to Subic. It was 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.
Departing from Nansha Port in China on August 17, MV Asterix was chartered by the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI), MICT operator.
As an incentive, port fee for the vessel chartered was reduced from $0.081 per gross revenue ron (GRT) to $1 per call. The dockage-at-berth-fee was also cut to $1 per vessel from $0.039 per GRT per calendar day or fraction thereof.
The government, through the Bureau of Customs and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), and port operators ICTSI and Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI) have identified about 3,000 TEUs that could be relocated. ATI operates the Manila South Harbor (MSH).
“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 Sta. Ana said.
The effort will be complemented by the increase in storage fees that will discourage shippers from using the ports as their virtual warehouses, Sta. Ana explained.
Sta. Anna added that while ports would 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.
“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,” he explained.
Yard utilization now 90%
Yard utilization at the two Manila ports has returned to 90% brought about by the long weekend.
Nonetheless, utilization is expected to go back down to 88% at week’s end after containers being released at ports continue to climb from 4,200 containers a day to about 4,400 a day.
On the other hand, productivity and efficiency at MICT, has already reached 20 moves an hour, a significant improvement from the 10 to 12 moves an hour two months ago, while productivity at the MSH has jumped to 15 moves an hour from only 8 moves an hour during the same period.
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 one million TEUs for the year, as it only handled about 1.1 million TEUs, thus far.
The MSH 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.
The PPA, along with the port operators, meanwhile, are trying to maintain the number of empty containers inside the ports at 12,000 TEUs.
As of end-June, the number of loaded containers piled up at the Manila ports totaled 85,000 TEUs, which occupied about 104% of the yard of the ports, while empty containers also reached a high of 22,000 TEUs.
The congestion was caused mainly by the truck ban imposed by the city government of Manila from February 24 to end-May of this year.
The Cabinet Cluster on Port Congestion continues to appeal to the private sector to take advantage of weekends and holidays in releasing cargo as traffic and restrictions are low.
Due in part to the port congestion at the Manila ports, the country’s imports fell for the second straight month in June, the government said on August 26. – Rappler.com