Home » Breaking News, Customs & Trade, Exclusives, Maritime, Ports/Terminals » Carriers evacuate empty containers at a faster pace

Foreign shipping lines are now able to evacuate more empty containers out of the country with yard utilization at Manila international terminals down to ideal levels, Association of International Shipping Lines (AISL) president Patrick Ronas said.

Empty containers usually evacuated in a month can now be done in just weeks as several carriers operating in the Philippines commit to move more empty boxes on a weekly basis, Ronas told PortCalls in a chance interview on March 15. He said this is now possible since Manila South Harbor and Manila International Container Terminal’s (MICT) yard utilizations have gone down recently.

Yard utilization at Manila South Harbor as of March 15 was at 60% and MICT’s at around 75%, both after hitting as high as 100% early this year, according to Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero on March 15 during the manifesto signing for efficient utilization of ports.

Manila South Harbor operator Asian Terminals Inc. and several international shipping lines in mid-February had agreed to share vessels and optimize terminal resources in a bid to immediately evacuate empty containers from Manila and surrounding areas.

The Bureau of Customs-Manila International Container Port (BOC-MICP), several foreign shipping lines and port operator International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) also agreed early this month to load out 17,500 empty containers every week starting March 9 to 10 to help bring down yard utilization and resolve the issue with empty containers.

Ronas said foreign shipping lines can also take advantage of the lean volumes and fair weather in the next three months, as well as the new Harbor Link Segment 10 road which reduces travel time from north of Metro Manila to the port area, to continue moving out more empty containers.

Aside from these initiatives, Transport officer-in-charge for Maritime Fernando Juan Perez said the agreement between BOC, Philippine Ports Authority, and ATI and ICTSI to transfer overstaying Customs-cleared laden boxes from Manila South Harbor and MICT to inland container depots outside will further reduce utilization at Manila ports. He added that this will again allow shipping lines to move out more boxes from congested offdock depots.

Overflowing container depots

As of March 5, utilization at container yards of Container Depot Alliance of the Philippines (CDAP) members averaged 107%, CDAP president Roger Torres earlier told PortCalls. He noted that all CDAP-member depots are beyond capacity, with only one having a 95% utilization rate.

Torres said more container yards are being constructed to handle the current requirements because even if foreign shipping lines continue to evacuate empty containers, ongoing importation activities mean more empty containers will still be entering the country.

The Philippines is an import-dependent country with four import containers coming in and only one laden export container going out at any given time. This means three containers are left in the country as empties. – Roumina Pablo

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