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PPA reports 7.4% increase in cargo throughput in first semester

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By Emmie Abadilla

Security issues in Mindanao did not affect the country’s total cargo throughput, which grew 7.42% in volume in the first six months of the year due to a favorable business climate, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) announced.

Almost all aspects of cargo operations, except for loose export cargoes, posted positive performances for the period January to June 2017.

Mindanao ports likewise posted positive performance for the period in review despite experiencing some security issues the past couple of months.

Latest PPA data showed that total cargo volume reached 125.805 million metric tons (mmt) from 117.118 mmt handled in the first six months of 2016.

Domestic volume posted the higher growth with 8.79% while foreign volume posted a 6.51% hike. Import volume likewise bested the export volume after posting an 11.41% increase while export declined by 0.61%.

“Port traffic sustained its growth momentum propelled by the surging domestic demand as well as private investment, which drove economy wide growth in view of the government’s expansionary fiscal-policy stance,” PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago explained.

“The more efficient movement of cargoes coming in and out of the Manila ports as a result of the implementation of Terminal Management Booking System and other decongestion measures paved the way for the sustained efficient operations of the ports,” he stressed. “Mindanao ports, particularly those in Northern Mindanao, continued to show growth notwithstanding the ongoing security concerns in the region.”

The Northern Mindanao ports, composed of Iligan, Ozamiz, Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, and Surigao, handled a total of 112.575 mmt wherein container volume registered a 5.33% hike from 173,191 metric tons in 2016 to 182,433 mt for the period. Domestic cargo traffic likewise went up by 65% to 10.023 mmt from 6.083 mmt handled a year ago.

Meanwhile, total container throughput during the period outperformed its 2016 figure by 12.05% to 3.489 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) from 3.113 million TEUs handled in 2016. Foreign container traffic improved 11.05% to 2.073 million TEUs from 1.867 million TEUs while domestic container volume improved by 13.55% to 1.414 million TEUs compared to the 2016 figure of 1.246 million TEUs.

Passenger traffic continue to post growth albeit nominal with 1.86% to 38.583 million from 37.879 million passengers in 2016, driven by intensified volume of travelers during the observance of the Holy Week as well as the continuous reliance by the sea-traveling public on Ro-Ro vessels, fastcrafts, and motorized bancas as primary mode of transportation for domestic inter-island connectivity.

The positive stream in passenger traffic serviced at the ports may have also been the result of favorable response of the public to the government’s domestic eco-tourism programs encouraging leisure inter-island Ro-Ro travel to tourist destinations such as Siargao, Puerto Galera, Bohol, Coron, El Nido, and other emerging tourism sites.

Shipcalls modestly declined by 0.61% to 219,380 from 220,721 due to the successive cancellation of trips due to inclement weather.

Productivity, specifically at the Manila Ports composed of the Manila South Harbor, Manila North Harbor and the Manila International Container Terminal, remains very healthy with a combined yard utilization of 53% wherein combined berth occupancy rate is 57% and Quay Crane productivity at 26 moves per crane per hour, indicating no sign of congestion problem.

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