Listed ports operator International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) called for a comprehensive and “unified master plan” to decongest Manila ports, whether sea or air, and road traffic.
Christian Razon Gonzales, ICTSI Vice President, said the government through the Department of Transport (DOTr) should craft a holistic master plan that would involve all stakeholders in land —whether roads or rails—as well as sea and air cargo logistics and transport to solve the traffic issues in Manila.
“If the government wants to talk to me about this, I’m happy to join in any discussion. But I have never really seen a unified master plan. Today, there are no new roads, no new railways,” he added.
“For roads, we need more roads. For rails, it is for long distances, and here, we don’t have much of long distances. The DOTr I think is considering river and RORO [roll-on, roll-off] transport, but if you don’t have end-to-end points, you’re going to have problems,” Gonzales said.
To decongest the Port of Manila, the Duterte administration has earlier recognized that some of the cargoes need to be transferred from Manila to Subic ports.
Gonzales said the government should track consumer trends and where do sea cargoes really go in order to determine shipping lines to be transferred to Subic ports from Manila ports.
Gonzales said this initiative started last year with about 100,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) already transferred to ICTSI’s port in Subic from Manila as of end-2015. But he pressed that a master plan should be created if the government wants to fast track the decongestion efforts.
“This needs to be master planned. It needs to be looked at with all of the stakeholders involved. I don’t know the challenges the others face, they may also have their issues that constrain their support of Subic port vis-a-vis Manila. You need to really talk to the stakeholders to coordinate,” the ICTSI chief said.
ICTSI said their Subic port has 600,000 TEU capacity, but only holds “less than 200,000” TEUs to date. He said that with the efforts to transfer cargoes from Manila to Subic, its current capacity may still grow by “three to four times.”
He said importers, exporters and distributors that should be transferred from Manila to Subic ports are the ones servicing northern Metro Manila, Region 3 or Central Luzon which includes Bataan, Bulacan, and Tarlac, as well as some parts of Rizal Province.
“If somebody is going to Manila, they’re going to Manila for a reason — and the reason is cost efficiency. They won’t go to Manila if it’s pricey. For them, going to Subic is more expensive. The government’s role is to determine what it is. It’s not [only]the port they should look at. It could be the trucking, warehousing, toll, price of the drivers, fuel, etc.,” Gonzales said.
At present, the only government-facilitated plan that is the closest to providing an overall recommendation for decongesting Manila traffic is the logistics industry’s National Logistics Master Plan (NLMP) facilitated by the Department of Trade and Industry, which is expected to be finalized and launched within this month.
According to the current draft NLMP, the country is in need of P5.7-trillion in infrastructure investments in the next six years from 2017 to 2022 to improve the logistics sector.
The draft NLMP also says that the local logistics sector is expected to become a P204-billion to P326-billion industry by 2020, growing from its current P100-billion value at present.
Gonzales was one of the speakers of the 14th MAP CEO Conference 2016 on Tuesday held at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel in Makati City.
With the theme “The Rise of Global Asean: The Next Generation Leaders”, the conference featured six young global movers who talked about their experiences in breaking into today’s disruptive and technology-driven business environment.
Aside from ICTSI’s Gonzales, other speakers were Edward Clayton of PricewarerhouseCoopers (PwC) Malaysia, Vivian Claire Liew of Philantrophy Works, Bob Hayward of KPMG Management Consulting in Asia, Hendy Setiono of Baba Rafi Enterprise, and Marita Cheng of Robogals Global.