Why using Batangas, Subic ports is not easy

Posted at 02/27/14 12:15 AM

MANILA -- Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Jun Abaya said on Wednesday that using the Batangas and Subic ports to decongest the Port of Manila is a "chicken-and-egg situation."

According to Abaya, using the other ports is not a simple issue.

"If you talk to the shippers, they'd say we won't go there since the ships don't go there. If you talk to the shipping lines, they'd say we won't ply that route because the shippers aren't there," Abaya revealed.

Abaya said the DOTC has been trying to get shippers and shipping lines management to meet, sit down, and modify their logistical supply systems.

"We've tried some interventions by tweaking with the fees and charges, but that didn't work. So we've met up with some shipping lines, we've met up with Chinese lines, Taiwanese shipping lines, and they're willing to experiment," he said.

However, Abaya added that it won't be easy to just urge shipping lines to come to Batangas and pick up goods.

"It would take a while before we get them to meet, agree, and execute," he said.

Abaya, meanwhile, said using the ports in Batangas and Subic has always been a clear direction of the government, and even during the time of then DOTC chiefs Ping de Jesus and Mar Roxas.

"There was a direction of the government, because we have both invested on Batangas and Subic, spent a lot, took out a loan, but they're still under single digit percentage utilization. Clearly, the government wants to move goods to those areas, not only utilize the ports but likewise decongest the roads of Metro Manila," Abaya stated.

He said warehouses, production centers, and consumers are in Metro Manila, the capital city. It would be efficient, he said, if business is done through Metro Manila, assuming road congestion isn't there.

"If you were to fly abroad, you'd rather fly from NAIA than Davao, because if you miss a flight, there are other options to go to. That is the main advantage of Manila -- flexibility options, efficiency is built-in. But again at the end of the day, we still have to contend with the congested streets, thus we find it logical to indeed drive traffic and encourage people to move goods to Batangas and Subic," he reiterated.

"The replication of getting more ships there (Batangas and Subic ports) is all contingent on that chicken-and-egg situation, so hopefully we'll build it up by getting shippers and shipping lines to sit down and match their needs," he said.