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New box barge service links Subic to other PH regional ports
Subic Bay International Terminal Corp president Roberto Locsin, in a presentation during the recent Northern Luzon Investors’ Conference organized by PortCalls and Asia Customs & Trade, said the domestic barge service was launched last August to bring boxes from other Philippine ports to Subic port for export.
SBITC president Roberto Locsin, in a presentation during the recent Northern Luzon Investors’ Conference organized by PortCalls and Asia Customs & Trade, said the domestic barge service was launched last August to bring boxes from other Philippine ports to Subic port for export.
In an email to PortCalls, Locsin said the service intends to connect the whole of Northern Luzon to Visayas, Mindanao, and Palawan, and vice versa.
“The primary objective of this is to make trade more efficient without the need to go through the traffic and congestion of Manila,” he added.
For the service, SBITC has partnered with domestic shipping line Cebu Sea Charterers, Inc. (CSC), a bulk and breakbulk carrier which recently launched containerized services in several ports in the country. CSC is using a roll-on/roll-off and container-capable LCT vessel with capacity of about 150 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) to serve the network.
Locsin said that currently, the service makes weekly direct calls from Subic to Cebu and from Subic to Cagayan de Oro, and vice versa. The Cebu port serves as the transshipment hub for Bacolod, Iloilo, Samar, and Leyte, with twice-a-day service out of Cebu. The Cagayan de Oro port, meanwhile, serves as the gateway to the whole island of Mindanao.
“We will be opening up new opportunities as we coordinate more with regulators in these ports to ensure all cargo movements are above board and can move efficiently and legally,” Locsin said.
Asked how competitive rates of this service are compared with the one going through Manila, Locsin said, “Subic will definitely be more cost effective and logistically efficient for shippers north of Manila to use for their domestic shipments if you quantify the costs in the current situation in the ports of Manila. But more importantly, this service opens more opportunities for shippers located outside of Luzon to connect to more global destinations and providers through Subic.”
“Remember we are made up of thousands of islands, of which only a few major ports are accessible for the global destinations. Imagine the untapped export potential of our country if we are able to maximize the vessel connectivity in SBITC, light vessel traffic in Subic, and the berth flexibility of LCTs in the untapped islands,” he added.
Locsin said that with this service, they “hope to create a new product to facilitate the growth of the rest of the country and connect them to the rest of the world.”
“The Subic Freeport then becomes a vital and important asset in the value chain more than ever, as it addresses efficiency in logistics but it unlocks value in Northern Luzon infrastructure that the rest of the country can utilize,” he noted.
SBITC, a subsidiary of International Container Terminal Services, Inc, operates Subic Port’s New Container Terminals 1 and 2, which have an annual capacity of 600,000 TEUs. But while only four-fifths of the terminal’s capacity is currently utilized, Locsin noted that volumes have been growing since 2014, hitting more than 100,000 TEUs in 2015 and 2016. For January to August 2017, Subic port has already handled 81,670 TEUs.