Home » Breaking News, Customs & Trade, Exclusives, Ports/Terminals » Harbour Centre eyes 10-hectare land to expand port capacity

WEB_Harbour Centre 1Harbour Centre Port Terminal, Inc. (HCPTI) is planning to buy 10 hectares of land as part of a long-term solution to ease berth congestion at its bulk and break bulk terminal.

The City of Manila and HCPTI sister company RII Builders, Inc. are now discussing acquiring a piece of land near Harbour Centre to gain an additional 500 meters of berth space for the terminal, said HCPTI chairman and chief executive officer Reghis Romero II in a presentation at the Philippine Ship Agents Association induction and Christmas party on December 7.

The proposed berth will have a depth of 13 to 14 meters to accommodate bigger vessels that now call the terminal, Romero added.

The HCPTI chief is positive of securing acquisition approval from several government agencies considering Harbour Centre, Manila’s only terminal dedicated to bulk and break bulk shipments, has been operating at capacity since 2012.

READ: Manila Harbour Centre high berth use seen to rise even more

Romero said the current “vessel traffic” at the facility is due to a number of reasons. For one, vessels calling the terminal have increased in size since 2010. About 56% of total volume handled at the terminal this year has been transported by ships with a capacity of 40,000 metric tons. This is in contrast to only 16% of the total volume handled by the same-capacity size vessels in the past four years.

Vessel length has also increased from 100 meters in 2010 to up to 180 meters in 2015. From simultaneously serving five vessels, each with a length of 100 meters, in three days in 2012, HCPTI can now only handle three 180-meter long vessels in 16 days.

In addition, the number of ships requiring more than 10 meters of draft grew to 59% of the current total from just 2% in 2012. Harbour Centre’s draft is only 11 meters.

The volume of cargoes, especially steel and bulk shipments, going through the terminal has also risen significantly over the last few years and is expected to further expand.

The average waiting time for all types of cargoes is currently 13 days versus the ideal three days. The longest waiting time is for steel shipments; three months ago this ranged from 62 to 72 days.

Short-term solutions

While awaiting approval for port expansion, Romero recommended that ship agents instead send smaller vessels of 150 meters long at most for about a year to ensure faster turnaround.

He said HCPTI has had continuous dialogue with stakeholders to solve the congestion problem, which has led to other steps being taken, such as lightening of vessel weight and providing jetty areas.

Currently under construction and targeted for completion this quarter are bulk cargo bays that will handle cargoes efficiently and safely, according to Romero. The new bays will increase the terminal’s storage capacity to 6,000 metric tons from 2,000 metric tons.

Yard access roads are being concreted in order to connect different yard areas and to accommodate trucks with heavier loads.

A concrete wall is being installed to protect the west end portion of the terminal and accommodate barge operations.

Sheet piles that had been around for 20 years have been rehabilitated.

Fenders and bollards were replaced to accommodate heavier vessels, while continuous dredging is being done. More truck scales are being installed, and 10 units of hustling trucks were imported for immediate unloading of cargoes from vessels.

The terminal operator also acquired 16 new 15-ton forklifts as well as 30-ton forklifts for lifting heavier cargoes and two passenger vessels for lightening purposes. On order are clamshells and one mobile crane.

Earlier, HCPTI vice president for operations James Lomeda said they expected vessel arrivals to pick up starting November, even as the terminal continued to receive high volumes of cargoes. He added that more than all of these measures, the ultimate solution would still be to expand terminal capacity to accommodate growth. – Text and photo by Roumina Pablo

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