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During the Mindanao Shipping conference 2014 panel discussion, L to R:

During one of the Mindanao Shipping Conference 2014 panel discussions, L to R: Bureau of Customs Deputy Commissioner for Assessment and Operations Coordinating Group Atty Agaton Uvero, PIE-MO Industries Association president Augustus Adis and Mindanao International Container Terminal Services, Inc terminal manager Jose Mari Fernandez

Heeding clamor from the port user community, the Phividec Industrial Authority (PIA) is studying the possibility of expanding the Mindanao Container Terminal (MCT) in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental, to prepare for the increase in cargo volume at the Northern Mindanao shipping hub.

“We have a plan to expand MCT,” Dante Clarito, head of PIA’s port management division, said on the sidelines of the PortCalls-organized Mindanao Shipping Conference 2014 on June 18, adding a committee has been formed to study the plan to expand MCT’s yard.

PIA is the government agency that regulates the port and owns the land the terminal occupies. In 2008 it awarded the concession to operate MCT to Mindanao International Container Terminal Services, Inc., a subsidiary of International Container Terminal Services, Inc.

Clarito said the study is ongoing and gave no other details, but indicated PIA has “more than enough area” to accommodate any expansion.

The port user community has been asking for the expansion, saying volumes of cargo being handled at MCT have been steadily increasing.

In a presentation on the wish list of the private sector at the Mindanao Shipping Conference, Augustus Adis, president of PIE-MO (Phividec Industrial Estate-Misamis Oriental) Industries Association, said MCT has “achieved its purpose as a logistics center,” handling 224,539 twenty-foot equivalent units in 2013—some 83% of its annual 270,000-TEU capacity. PIE-MO is the association of locators within PIA.

Thus, part of the port users’ wish list is the expansion of MCT to hedge against congestion and accommodate bigger and more cost-effective vessels.

Adis noted that MCT, with the huge volume of cargo it handles, is a key player in the region’s economic growth and contributes to the decongestion of the base port of Cagayan de Oro (CDO).


Reclassification of MCT as principal port

Adis said the port community is also pushing for the declaration of MCT as a principal port of entry from its current classification as a sub-port. CDO, being the base port, is the region’s principal gateway.

Bureau of Customs (BOC) Deputy Commissioner for the Assessment and Operations Coordinating Group Atty. Agaton Teodoro Uvero, also a speaker at the conference, said the reclassification was possible and may be feasible in a year’s time.

Uvero said the BOC mother agency, the Department of Finance, has a ordered review of ports and sub-ports as part of a port rationalization plan.

Part of the review, Uvero said, is whether to make MCT the principal port and CDO port the sub-port. However, there may be problems with personnel recruitment since MCT-BOC does not have plantilla positions.

Uvero noted that the Department of Budget and Management has already approved the plantilla for additional BOC personnel and is just waiting for the release of the relevant memorandum.

MCT terminal manager Jose Mari Fernandez, another conference speaker, told PortCalls the company foresees a 5% cargo growth for 2014.

He sees more growth for foreign volume. Fernandez said the current volume ratio at MCT is 53% foreign and 47% domestic.

“Right now, we’re doing OK. All equipment are up and running,” Fernandez said, adding there are no plans yet to add more. “What we have right now is sufficient to respond to the volume.” – Text and photos by Roumina Pablo

For more Mindanao Shipping Conference 2014 photos, go to www.flickr.com/photos/87128801@N06/with/14310154678/

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