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ICTSI sees higher efficiency at Manila ports

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By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Global port operator International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) said its acquisition of Petron Corporation’s 34.83 percent stake in the biggest domestic port, the Manila North Harbor, for P1.75 billion, will not lead into a monopoly in port operation in Manila but rather bring in big improvements for logistics firms and port users resulting in cheaper cost of doing business in the country.

Christian Gonzalez, senior vice-president and regional head of Asia Pacific & Manila International Container Terminal of the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI), told reporters that its move was only meant to accumulate its shares, not “monopoly.”

“No, not a monopoly, we are just accumulating shares there,” said Gonzalez.

In fact, he said, its move in the North Harbor will bring in higher efficiency at the Manila port for both logistics firms and port users.

For instance, Gonzalez explained that if a foreign container ship enters the port, the cargo does not go to one place only like Cebu or Leyte, so the cargo will be placed in different containers for distribution to their different destination.  Since North Harbor is situated just beside Manila International Container Terminal (MICT), they can link the two without having to bring in trucks to bring the goods outside of the port and transfer to the domestic port.

“There are opportunities to link the two so lots of efficiencies created,” he said.

He said they will be making comments soon on their further plans for the North Harbor.

The two ports will not also compete against each other because they serve different kind of business with MICT geared more towards the international market while the North is for the domestic business.

Harbor Center Port Terminal Incorporated owns the remaining 65 percent stake in the Manila North Harbor Port Inc. (MNHPI), which was granted a 25-year renewable contract in November 2009  to the develop, manage, operate and maintain the Manila North Harbor.

According to its website, Manila North Harbor operates the 52.5-hectare multi-purpose port terminal used in handling general cargo and passenger accommodation. It services close to 4,000 vessels per year.

Earlier, the Board of Investments has approved ICTSI’s  P5-billion expansion of Berth 7 in Manila’s North Harbor.

In a statement, the BOI said it has awarded ICTSI with its certificate of registration for expansion of Berth 7 located at its flagship MICT.

The port-management firm has already completed Phase 1 of Berth 7’s construction, costing some P1.6 billion and deploying 4 hectares of new yard space.

The area was intended to be an empty container depot that could accommodate 4,300 containers. The entire Berth 7 project is expected to accommodate higher container volume. It has a handling up to 2.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units upon completion, a 20-percent improvement from its existing capacity.

It will also construct a 300-meter wharf structure including back-up areas and associated roadway improvements.

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