Home » Maritime, Ports/Terminals » Container depots in Manila facing congestion

Daily volume of empties up 50%; box deposit taking longer than usual

Metro-based container depot operators in the Philippines are facing congestion after the volume of empty containers surged in the past two weeks.

The Container Depot Association of the Philippines (CDAP) said the spike came earlier than anticipated, catching its members off guard. It is also a sign of robust trade in the Philippines but not much elsewhere, according to CDAP president Carl Fontanilla.

Usually empty containers pile up in Metro Manila depots from end of October to end of the year, in the run-up to Christmas. This time, the pile-up came a month earlier with shipping lines not able to reposition their empties fast enough.

“Our yards are really congested right now due to the sudden increase in the number of empty containers in the past two weeks,” Fontanilla told PortCalls.

“From the usual 250 empty containers we handle daily, this has now spiked to 500 to 600 containers a day or an increase of at least 50%,” Fontanilla said.

“Truckers and shippers are also taking more time to deposit empty containers as yards are overflowing,” he explained.

The pile-up of empties has jacked up revenue of depot operators by 20-30% but, according to Fontanilla, also has a downside: irate customers who cannot be readily accommodated.


Slow trade as culprit

Timely container repositioning has been a challenge for shipping lines, with little demand for the use of boxes in other countries due to slow global trade.

“The pile-up of containers in our yards suggest there is very limited activity in other areas within the region and the empty containers are here due to the continued strong economic activity of the Philippines,” Fontanilla explained.

The Philippines is an import-dependent country. Imports account for about 70% of the country’s total trade.

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