The backlog of laden and empty containers has declined significantly as public and private collaboration to de-clog Manila ports continues, according to the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).
As of August 15, only about 8,175 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) have yet to be cleared out of the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) and South Harbor while the number of empty containers has dropped to 12,000 TEUs, PPA said in a press statement. Yard utilization was at 87% to 90%, it added.
About two months ago, laden containers reached 99,000 TEUs and empties 22,000 TEUs, said PPA general manager Juan Sta. Ana. Yard utilization was at 105%.
“Held-up containers at foreign ports have likewise declined significantly from 37,000 TEUs some two months ago to only 20,000 as of this month,” the port chief added.
“The reduction in the number of laden and empty containers suggests that productivity has increased dramatically, resulting in better efficiency in handling cargoes and vessels at the Manila port.”
PPA said port operators are, however, bracing for an uptick in yard utilization this week brought about by the August 21 and August 25 national holidays as well as the start of the peak shipping season.
Sta Ana noted that private sector associations including the Federation of Philippine Industries, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Joint Foreign Chambers, Indian Foreign Chamber of Commerce, and Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce have all agreed to withdraw their shipments during weekends and accelerate container movement.
Foreign carriers led by the Association of International Shipping Lines have also committed to extend their office hours to accommodate other concerns of cargo owners, such as payment of demurrage and other vessel-related fees, Sta. Ana said.
He acknowledged that while logistics operations are still months away from reverting to pre-Manila truck ban levels, “we are now feeling the positive effects” of the different mitigating measures put into place by both private and government sectors.
Transfer to Subic
MICT operator International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) has started to transfer about 3,000 overstaying containers from Manila to Subic to provide additional space for laden cargoes.
ICTSI is also set to open the container yard at MICT’s Berth 7 in the next 30 to 60 days to accommodate the expected surge in cargo volume in the run-up to Christmas, and to house empty boxes to be shipped out by foreign shipping lines, PPA said.
The government, through the Cabinet Cluster on Port Congestion (CCPC) and the private sector, will soon meet with Metro Manila mayors to discuss the temporary lifting of the truck ban on specific routes, particularly for trucks going east of Manila such as in Ortigas, Marikina, and Pasig.
The government and private sector estimate that only one-third of roads around the National Capital Region will be included in their request, PPA said.
PPA said CCPC “continues to find ways to further de-clog the ports including the opening up of additional empty container depots with close proximity to the Manila ports, the relocation of customs-cleared overstaying containers, and weekend deliveries.” – Roumina Pablo