The expansion of Manila South Harbor’s yard and berth is expected to be completed by late 2020, increasing by 20% the facility’s annual capacity to over 1.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) from the current 1.25 million TEUs, according to an executive of Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI), operator of South Harbor.
“We started late last year and we’re expanding our yard, our quay, and our equipment fleet, and that’s going to take until end of next year to come online,” ATI executive vice president William Khoury told reporters on the sidelines of the company’s recent annual stockholders’ meeting.
ATI has allotted 40% to 45% of its P14.7-billion capital expenditures for 2019-2020 to expand Manila South Harbor in anticipation of higher cargo volumes and in line with its concession commitments with the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).
This year, Khoury said, they expect volumes in Manila South Harbor to grow in the high single digit as the country’s economy grows. In 2017, South Harbor breached the 1-million TEU mark with 1.1 million TEUs handled. Last year, the port serviced 1.17 million TEUs.
The expansion also covers acquiring additional equipment, including at least two new quay cranes, as well as other support equipment such as yard cranes, said Khoury. In addition, a part of the budget will be used to replace old equipment, he noted.
Meanwhile, Khoury said ATI has expanded services offered by its Sta. Mesa, Manila off-dock container yard facility; it now also accepts customs-cleared laden import containers aside from empty containers. This follows the implementation of PPA Administrative Order (AO) 02-2019 directing terminal operators to transfer overstaying customs-cleared import containers from Manila terminals to off-dock depots.
Prior to this, PPA, Bureau of Customs, Association of International Shipping Lines, and ATI and International Container Terminal Services, Inc. signed a manifesto on March 15 that compels the transfer of overstaying customs-cleared containers at Manila South Harbor and Manila International Container Terminal to inland container depots.
These policies were meant to address high utilization in Manila ports from last year until early this year caused by a number of factors, including overstaying containers.
Khoury said that since these policies were set, ATI has seen clients withdrawing their customs-cleared boxes earlier, and he hopes the practice continues.
And with these new policies, Khoury said ATI expects a “smooth year moving forward.”
ATI has also recently opened a new five-hectare empty container depot in Calamba, Laguna that can cater to the needs of both Batangas and Manila ports.
Aside from Manila South Harbor, ATI has also completed expansion of Batangas Container Terminal (BCT), which now has a longer berth and bigger yard, complemented with two new quay cranes, four new rubber-tired gantry cranes, and other support equipment.
Already in use, BCT’s berth 2 will be formally inaugurated on April 29.
The expansion has increased BCT’s annual capacity to 450,000 TEUs from 330,000 TEUs previously.
ATI will also break ground for its new passenger terminal, expected to be operational by 2021, in the next few months. Last year, ATI inaugurated its new multi-level car storage facility, which increased Batangas port’s capacity, enabling it to handle 5,400 completely built vehicles.