Port operator International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) has welcomed “concrete steps” taken by the Philippine government to clear Manila ports of overstaying cargo.
“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,” Christian R. Gonzalez, ICTSI Global Corporate head, commented.
Roughly a month after the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) issued an ultimatum for overstaying containers, yard utilization at the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) rapidly decreased by about 20 percent, from 90 percent in January this year to 70 percent at the beginning of April.
As explained, the healthy yard utilization happened despite higher volume handled, especially in March when MICT handled a record monthly volume. The terminal was able to accept an almost double number of empty containers it was receiving. Shipping lines have now been able to bridge the gap in achieving their weekly empty container evacuation targets.
Import dwell time has likewise been reduced from 11 days in January to 6.6 days at the beginning of April. This has resulted in zero ship queues compared to December’s peak season.
ICTSI also continues to transfer more overstaying laden containers to Laguna Gateway Inland Container Terminal (LGICT) in Calamba.
“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,” Gonzalez added.
The government has led various port stakeholders — including ICTSI, Asian Terminals, Inc. (ATI), and international shipping lines — in the signing a Manifesto of Support last March 15 for the efficient utilization of Manila ports, encouraging the immediate retrieval of overstaying and empty cargo to designated ports and off-dock depots.
The aim of the manifesto was to prevent the imbalance of inbound and outbound containers caused by the practice of using the ports for prolonged storage.
A joint administrative order (JAO) will soon be issued by the Trade Department, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and PPA to address concerns on unreturned empties and overstaying imports, according to ICTSI.