The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) is proposing several infrastructure projects that if undertaken will help prevent port congestion from happening again.
PPA assistant general manager for special projects Hector Miole, in a presentation at last week’s Philippine International Seafreight Forwarders Association, Inc. (PISFA) general membership meeting, enumerated some long-term projects that are “all about increasing capacity and making the port work efficiently.”
First is the construction of inland container depots (ICDs) for operation by terminal operators so as to provide additional storage space outside the port, said Miole, citing as an example the Laguna ICD of port operator International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI). Together with the expansion of Yard 7, the facility, which recently started its first phase of operations, is intended to increase by 20% the capacity of ICTSI’s flagship operations, Manila International Container Terminal.
Another proposal, Miole said, is a dry port. This is an inland intermodal terminal directly connected by road or rail to a seaport, and that operates as a center for transhipping sea cargo to inland destinations. In addition, dry ports may include facilities for storing and consolidating goods, provide maintenance for road or rail cargo carriers, and offer customs clearance services. Having these facilities in a dry port relieves competition for storage and customs space at the seaport itself.
Moreover, Miole encouraged foreign shipping lines to construct and operate their own empty container depots (ECD) outside the port. “We urge government to provide incentives so that empty container depots can easily be built and will become less expensive for shipping operators and other consortiums,” he said.
Cargo owners, shippers, and consignees should likewise have their own container yards outside of the port, he added. Port operators and PPA have repeatedly stated that terminals should not be used as virtual warehouses of cargoes.
Moreover, Miole said there should be dedicated off-dock yards for confiscated and abandoned containers.
The vehicle booking system (VBS), a computerized system that requires truckers to secure an advance appointment from port operators before proceeding to the terminals to pick up or deposit containers, is also a long-term solution, according to the PPA official. In a recent chance interview with PortCalls, International Container Terminal Services, Inc. head for Asia, the Pacific and Subcontinent Christian Gonzalez said the project is scheduled for implementation in the second or third quarter of this year.
To complement the VBS, Miole urged trucking companies to construct and operate their own truck parking and holding areas outside the port. The parking area is where trucks can stay while waiting for their appointments so they don’t get apprehended for parking just anywhere.
An improved and expanded road network “combined with rationalized use of the roads on weekends and holidays when there is a slack in port operations” was also recommended.
Batangas expansion blueprint
Meanwhile, Miole said PPA is now creating a port development plan for Batangas, including the extension of the quay by 184.25 lineal meters and construction of the bridge (35 lineal meters) connecting Phase II to Phase I.
Recently, Batangas port operator Asian Terminals Inc. completed dredging the port’s entrance channel to 13 meters, a development expected to further increase the volume coming into the South Luzon port since shipping lines can maximize their loadings.
Miole said PPA will also build a third phase in Batangas port that is seen to double its capacity to 1.2 million twenty-foot equivalent units.
Other projects for Batangas include the integration of passenger terminal buildings, construction of the Batangas Livelihood Center Building and existing parking areas; construction of a multilevel parking (five-story car parking facility for completely built units); and reclamation work over an area of 42,985 square meters to accommodate an additional 180 lineal meters of extension for the quay in Phase I. – Roumina Pablo