MANILA, Philippines – The government is boosting efforts to de-clog the ports in Manila in preparation for the peak season by shipping out overstaying containers to Subic.
On Thursday, chartered vessel MV Asterix left Manila International Container Terminal carrying 1,154 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) to Subic.
The vessel is expected to return to Manila over the weekend to carry the remaining overstaying containers.
The Bureau of Customs (BOC), the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and port operators International Container Terminal Services, Inc. and Asian Terminals, Inc. said about 3,000 TEUs at the Manila port can be relocated.
“The shipping out of these overstaying containers is only one of the few measures aimed at unclogging the ports before the start of the peak season,” PPA general manager Juan Sta. Ana said in a statement.
“This will be complemented by the increase in storage fees that will encourage shippers to get their cargoes immediately instead of leaving it inside and use the ports as virtual warehouses,” he added.
Sta. Ana said that while the ports will remain a congested in terms of yard capacity, there has been an improvement in productivity and efficiency of the two Manila ports in time for the expected spike in cargo volume leading up to the Christmas season.
The MICT has an annual capacity of 2.5 million TEUs. It has a surplus capacity of more than 1 million TEUs for the year as it only handled about 1.1 million TEUs, thus far.
ATI-operated Manila South Harbor, meanwhile, has an annual capacity of 1.3 million TEUs. It has so far handled 800,000 TEUs and has an excess capacity of about 500,000 TEUs more.
“While it seems that we have a shortage in yard space, it doesn’t mean we don’t have enough capacity. We have the capacity, we just have to work at a slower pace compared to last year,” Sta. Ana said.
Currently, yard utilization at the two Manila ports has returned to 90 percent brought about by the long weekend.
Utilization is expected to drop to 88 percent at the end of the week after containers being released at ports continue to climb from 4,200 a day to about 4,400 containers a day.
The PPA and port operators, meanwhile, are trying to maintain the number of empty containers inside the ports at 12,000 TEUs as it also slowly takes in the 20,000 held-up containers at foreign ports.
The number of laden containers piled up at the Manila ports reached 85,000 TEUs as of end June, occupying about 104 percent of the yard of the ports while the total of empty containers also reached a high of 22,000 TEUs.
The congestion at the ports has been blamed on the day-time truck ban imposed by the Manila government from February 24 to end May of this year, which limited the movement of cargoes in and out of the ports during nighttime only.