Rates for the high-demand zone under the Terminal Appointment Booking System (TABS) have been reduced by half for a limited period as Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) attempts to increase usage of slots in this zone.
“In an effort to maximize heavily under-utilized high-demand slots, MICT will lower the booking fee currently set at 1000 points to 500 points for a trial period effective 0600h (6 a.m.) May 3, 2016 up to the end of May 31, 2016,” MICT told clients in a notice on May 2. One point is equivalent to one Philippine peso.
As of press time, PortCalls has been unable to reach officials of Asian Terminals Inc to determine whether the same scheme now applied to its facility, the Manila South Harbor.
“There will be no change in slot allocations to ensure we remain compliant with the LGU (local government unit) requirements/limits on road use during these peak times,” MICT said.
The port operator noted that clients that have already booked in the high-demand zones “can expect a refund of the rate difference,” and can ask for MICT’s assistance in getting the refund.
“As conveyed previously, we will be evaluating multiple processes and suggestions to achieve our goal of maximizing slot allocations all throughout the 24 hours of each day. We will be re-evaluating this exercise and determine the next steps after the trial period and update you accordingly,” MICT said.
More free slots
In a much earlier notice dated March 31, MICT said it adjusted the points window to “increase the number of free slots by 220% during day time at the request of port users and added Monday rebate incentives to further reward everyone for using non-traditional supply chain hours.”
In the same March 31 notice, the period covering 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. has been converted to medium demand from zero-demand zone, and the time zones 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. to free slots from medium demand.
Slot changes and cancellations can now be made any time prior to the booked zone, MICT added.
“No-show penalty will only be charged if no one books for the cancelled slot from the slot pool,” the port operator said. Trucks arriving within the “early grace period” are advised to use the MICT Pre-Gate Area.
MICT also advised clients to always include the truck plate number when booking, and that editing of the plate number can still be done anytime. The truck plate number is the reference used by the enforcer in checking whether a truck has a TABS booking and a truck ban exemption.
“We would like to encourage and remind everybody to practice planning and booking well in advance to be able to secure your preferred slots,” it added.
The TABS system has two goals, said Christian Gonzalez, International Container Terminal Services, Inc. senior vice president and regional head of Asia-Pacific and MICT, in an earlier interview with PortCalls.
The first is to spread terminal users within the 24-hour period, he said, and the second goal is to have terminals know in advance what time a customer will come to the port so they can prepare the containers beforehand.
He acknowledged that stakeholders tend to book more of the free slots. “For a while we have to get people to start moving into the paid (zones) by reducing the (fee),” Gonzalez said.
“When we get people to spread it out over the 24 hours (making the process economical) and giving them the confidence that they can arrive without penalties, then we’ll start encouraging or even forcing people to book in advance, not one hour before (the desired slot),” Gonzalez explained.
He added port operators can also give incentives to book in advance by, for example, reducing their fee for a high-demand zone if they book 24 hours before the desired slot.
He said they “expect changes in the (system in the) coming months or throughout the year.” One of these changes involves a plan to allow stakeholders to check for available slots in real time by putting relevant data on the TABS website.
Customs brokers have been asking for such visibility to help dispel doubts of unavailable slots. – Roumina Pablo
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