Empty containers easing up at Manila Port

Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras recently announced that the problem of empty container storage in the Port of Manila, Philippines has started to ease up with stakeholders’ reports of significant improvement in empty positioning by trucks, new systems from the Association of International Shipping Lines and the opening of a new empty container deport (ECD) at the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT).

Almendras made the announcement during the Manila Ports Forum hosted by the Office of the Cabinet Secretary and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) at the Diamond Hotel in Manila.

AISL said they are doing their part to ease congestion at the Manila ports including a project for an online system on the retrieval of empty containers. Once approved by the Association of International Shipping Lines (AISL) board, the system can be rolled out to interconnect all stakeholders including shipping lines, truckers and depots directly involved in empty container returns.

AISL said it has commissioned technology provider Cargo Data Exchange Center (CDEC) to develop and implement the integrated system.

The web-based system was suggested by truckers, specifically Alberto Suansing, director of the Confederation of Truckers Association of the Philippines, and drew support from other industry stakeholders such as the Alliance of Concerned Truck Owners and Organizations and Container Depot Association of the Philippines.

At the same meeting, Almendras said: “The new yard expansion at the MICT will significantly improve the situation in the Port of Manila. Shipping lines now have additional space to park their empty containers within the port. Operationally, this will be very efficient when shipping lines move out their empty containers outside of the country,” he said.

Mohamed Ghandar, MICT general manager, said operations at the new yard expansion of the MICT are in full swing to specifically accommodate the storage of empty containers. “Empties are welcome at the MICT 24/7. We have no issues with empty containers,” he added.

Returning empty containers has been identified as a major cause of the backlog at the Manila ports that was caused by the Manila daytime truck ban. Even after the ban was lifted indefinitely in September, the empty container backlog persisted due to the peak holiday trade season.

Almendras will convene a technical working group (TWG) next week that will draw up and issue guidelines on the dispatch and allocation of empty containers at the MICT. Overall, the TWG will also discuss plans of actions based on the agreements reached in the forum.

The Manila Ports Forum drew up agreements from port stakeholders that would further improve cargo processing and port operations during the holiday season and over the long term. The AISL will urge its members to operate 24/7 and start moving empty containers to MICT’s new ECD. 

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