While the situation involving repositioning of empty containers has improved slightly, utilization of container yards in Metro Manila remains high two months after the Manila truck ban has been lifted indefinitely in September.
Carl Fontanilla, president of the Container Yard Depot Association of the Philippines, said members’ container yards “have been seeing a slight improvement in the movement of containers especially the ship out of empties.
“But we feel it’s not yet enough to bring down the inventory level of CYs in Metro Manila. Last week the container inventory of all Metro Manila CYs (was) at 90% capacity,” Fontanilla told PortCalls in an email.
He said that while container yards outside of Metro Manila, such as those in Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, and Batangas were only 50% full, pointing to “enough room to absorb any surge,” the cost to move empty containers to these CYs is higher.
Some truckers would much rather wait for space in Metro Manila yards to open up rather than travel to yards outside Metro Manila, he said.
To minimize congestion in container yards, Fontanilla said some yard operators have adopted a number queuing system.
“Truckers are requested to get a number queue first before bringing their units. Then the CY will call or text them on the approximate time they will be accommodated,” Fontanilla explained.
The queuing system depends on space availability in a particular container yard for a shipping line. This is strictly based on the storage allocation indicated in the contract between the CY and the shipping line, Fontanilla said.
He added the scheme is similar to the Web-based empty return system that the Association of International Shipping Lines will soon roll out, except the yards are adopting manual processing.
Meantime, the opening of Manila International Container Terminal’s Yard 7 for empty container repositioning “will definitely help because it will provide a buffer,” Fontanilla said.
“But I think that it will depend ultimately on the handling rate at the main dock, meaning how fast they will be able to move in and move out containers.”
Asked when container yard operators can expect to see their operations returning to normal, Fontanilla said they could not say “at this time.” – Roumina Pablo
Image courtesy of Sailom at FreeDigitalPhotos.net