Corporate News

ICTSI seeks to improve utilization at Subic port

Posted on September 07, 2016

THE government is being urged to come up with a master plan on how to redirect cargo flow from Manila to Subic, as a solution to ease the traffic congestion caused by trucks in Metro Manila.

Christian R. Gonzalez, ICTSI senior vice-president and head of Asia Pacific
International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) Senior Vice-President and Head of Asia Pacific Region Christian R. Gonzalez said he would like to see more cargo enter the Subic Bay International Terminal Corp. (SBITC) given its lower costs and royalties, but noted that diverting the flow of goods may not be that simple.

“It needs to be looked at with all the stakeholders involved. We can’t gut check decisions without looking at all portions of the chain. For example, I like to talk about the port. I don’t know anything about trucking. I don’t know anything about warehousing. I don’t know the challenges that they face. There must be certain issues that they have that also constrain their ability to support Subic vis-a-vis Manila. So that needs to be studied,” he told reporters at the sidelines of the Management Association of the Philippines International CEO Conference 2016 on Tuesday.

Mr. Gonzalez pointed out the Subic port, which has a 600,000 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) capacity, but currently utilizes less than a third or “below” 200,000 TEUs.

As of 2015, he said an estimated 100,000 TEUs have gone to Subic port from Manila and Central Luzon.

“If you look at potential cargo in Region 3, Bataan, Bulacan, Northern Metro Manila and some parts of Rizal, you’re probably talking today another 150,000 or 200,000 TEUs on top of what it’s already doing,” he said, when asked how much more cargo can potentially be transferred to Subic.

However, Mr. Gonzalez said it is still not clear when the Subic port would be able to operate at full capacity, noting how growth in other regions is not as fast as that in Metro Manila.

However, he said that “cost efficiency,” among many other concerns, may discourage firms from using the Subic port.

“If somebody is going to Manila, they’re going to Manila for a reason. And that reason is cost efficiency. They’re not going to Manila if it’s more expensive for them. So there’s a reason why, for them, going to Subic is more expensive. The government’s role is to figure out what it is. It’s not the port. It could be docking, warehousing, tolling, it could be price of the drivers, it could be fuel, I don’t know,” Mr. Gonzalez said.

“If the government wants to talk to me about this, I’m happy to join any discussion. But I’ve never really seen a unified master plan.”

ICTSI shares fell P1.50 or 1.89% to P78 apiece on Tuesday. -- Roy Stephen C. Canivel