Yard utilization at Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) has declined from 90% in January to 70% at the start of April as a result of a Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) order to transfer all overstaying Customs-cleared containers out of Manila ports, port operator International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) said.
“The healthy yard utilization happened despite higher volume handled, especially in March where MICT handled a record monthly volume. The terminal was able to accept almost double the number of empty containers it was receiving, freeing up trucks in the process which, in turn, resulted to more import pull outs. Shipping lines have now been able to bridge the gap in achieving their weekly empty container evacuation targets,” ICTSI said in a statement.
PPA, the Bureau of Customs (BOC), Association of International Shipping Lines (AISL), ICTSI, and Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI), on March 15 signed a manifesto of support for the efficient utilization of Manila ports, encouraging the immediate retrieval of overstaying from Manila ports.
Prior to the manifesto, PPA published a notice ordering all importers and cargo owners to withdraw their Customs-cleared containers from Manila ports from March 1 to 15, otherwise cargoes will be transferred to outside depots at their expense.
After the order, ICTSI said import dwell time was reduced from 11 days in January to 6.6 days at the start of April.
“This has resulted in zero ship queues compared to December’s peak season,” ICTSI noted.
The port operator said it still continues to transfer more overstaying laden containers to Laguna Gateway Inland Container Terminal (LGICT) in Calamba. LGICT is an ICTSI subsidiary.
ICTSI global corporate head Christian R. Gonzalez hailed collaborative and complementing efforts of PPA, Department of Transportation (DOTr), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and BOC to resolve the issue of overstaying cargo at Manila ports.
“We thank the Philippine government for taking a hard stand in fast-tracking the disposal and reduction of overstaying and empty containers at Manila ports. The results have been immediate and goes to show what determination and focus of purpose can do,” Gonzalez said.
“We are optimistic that most have understood the need for containers to move regularly and in a timely fashion, but the proof will come after Easter which historically has seen overstaying boxes surge,” he added.
But even before the manifesto was signed, ICTSI, AISL, Alliance of Concerned Truck Owners and Organizations, and Container Depot Alliance of the Philippines, had agreed to undertake immediate measures in alleviating problems connected with returning empty containers.
This includes the identification of depot areas that could be leased for empty storage, with ICTSI covering the cost of the lease; movement of more than 5,000 overstaying containers to bonded warehouses outside of the terminal; and use of the San Miguel Yamamura property near the MICT to store and reposition of empty containers, starting April 1.
The use of LGICT and the Cavite Gateway Terminal in Tanza was likewise encouraged to improve truck movement in the metro.
PPA had also recently issued Administrative Order No. 02-2019, which provides the guidelines on the transfer of overstaying imported cargoes from Manila South Harbor and MICT to designated ports outside in a bid to promote optimal terminal efficiency and address high import dwell time.
In addition, DTI, DOTr, Department of Finance, BOC, and PPA are set to sign a joint administrative order that contains measures to alleviate port congestion, among others.
All these efforts are meant to address high import dwell time and promote optimal terminal efficiency in Manila’s international terminals, which for several months since last year, had high utilization due to a number of factors, including the overstaying of import cargoes.