ICTSI’s Cavite barge terminal goes full blast in June

Cavite Gateway Terminal offers an alternative to moving cargo to and from the Port of Manila and the economic zones of Cavite via container barges plying the Manila Bay. Photo from ictsi.com.

Cavite Gateway Terminal (CGT), the Philippines’ first container roll-on/roll-off (Ro-Ro) barge terminal in Tanza, Cavite, will be fully operational by June 2018, according to Enrique Razon, Jr., chairman and president of port operator International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI).

Razon, in an interview with reporters on the sidelines of ICTSI’s annual stockholders’ meeting on April 19, said the project is the first to be “developed, conceptualized, started, and completed” under the government’s Build, Build, Build infrastructure program.

Built on a six-hectare property owned by ICTSI, CGT was formally launched in April 2017 to facilitate seaborne transfer of containers between ICTSI’s flagship terminal MICT and Cavite, according to the port operator.

In his speech during the event, Razon said that “businesses will now have an alternative way to move cargo to and from the Port of Manila and the economic zones of Cavite via container barges plying the Manila Bay.”

“This should significantly relieve Metro Manila road traffic of container trucks,” he added.

CGT is now ready to receive containers as it already has temporary facilities for handling shipments, ICTSI senior vice president and the head of Asia Pacific Region and Manila International Terminal (MITC) Christian Gonzalez told PortCalls during the same event.

He had earlier told PortCalls the terminal’s soft-opening was scheduled for the second quarter of this year, with empty containers to be transported by barge from the Cavite Economic Zone (CEZ) to MICT.

READ: Cavite Gateway Terminal soft opening seen in Q2

Gonzalez noted CGT will be a “common-use facility” for barge operators, a condition set by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) when it approved the unsolicited proposal.

“They want to make sure that this is a completely commercially viable opportunity for anybody that wants to use it,” he added. He said ICTSI has already given indicative rates to potential clients.

ICTSI, together with partners freight forwarder Orient Freight International, Inc. and marine services provider Harbor Star Shipping Services, Inc., will operate CGT.

At the same time, ICTSI is working with the municipal government of Tanza on the construction of a four-lane road to “make sure that the long-term viability of the facility is there as the volume increases” and to “get the trucks through without any disruption to the community.”

Earlier, too, Gonzalez said DOTr was working with the Department of Public Works and Highways on the project and its financing. However, he said that “if push comes to shove,” ICTSI would finance the project.

Asked when the road will be constructed and completed, Gonzalez said “definitely by next year.”

CGT is seen to potentially reduce truck trips on city roads by 140,000 annually.

Gonzalez in 2016 said that instead of truck bans and other regulations, “we (CGT) came up with a solution that’s been tried and tested in other places around the world, which is to use waterways which are not congested, which are very efficient, which will be cheap, and which essentially allow the development of more economic activity in the province of Cavite.”

Phase 1 of CGT has a project cost of US$30 million. In an earlier statement, ICTSI said part of the group’s $380 million capital expenditure for 2018 will go to funding the completion of CGT, which will be Philippine Economic Zone Authority-bonded.

Phase 1 involves pier and yard infrastructure, equipment, and support facilities, and can accommodate a total of 115,000 twenty-foot equivalent units per year.

Succeeding phases will support increases in capacity in anticipation of annual volume growth in the Cavite market, home to a number of economic zones. From CEZ locators alone, 240,000 containers are already handled annually, according to Orient Freight International Inc. president Monchu Garcia. – Roumina Pablo