The Mindanao Container Terminal at the Phividec Industrial Estate in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental has reported an increase in cargo volumes despite the general economic slowdown in 2009.

The port handled 118,664 twenty-foot container equivalent units (TEUs) in 2009, an increase of a nearly a tenth from the previous year’s 109,000 TEUs. “Despite the economic crisis our performance has been steadily going up,” said port manager Dante F. Clarito.

The terminal’s revenues and other financial data for last year, however, are still unavailable.

The terminal’s capacity of 270,000 TEUs is more than enough to cover future projected volume increases. “But we also have plans of expanding,” said Mr. Clarito. “We cannot wait for demand to exceed our capacity before we do something about it, so definitely, we will be working on expansions later.”

Among the biggest clients of the port are Nestlé Philippines, Inc. and Del Monte, which both operate plants in the city. The container port wants to capture all of Northern Mindanao’s exports for now, but seeks to eventually grab volumes from the neighboring regions.

“We are already servicing rubber shipments from Zamboanga Sibugay,” said Mr.Clarito. “Instead of having to go to Manila, ships from the container terminal can go directly to international destinations such as Japan and other countries, especially those in the BIMP-EAGA sub-region,” he said, referring to the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area.

“In the entire Mindanao, we are the only one using the gantry crane.

This operates at 25 to 30 containers per hour, a far better performance compared with the six-crane equipment used before.

This also allows for the computation of the number of hours a ship has to stay in port so that the turnaround is faster,” he said.

The facilities in the terminal allows the unloading of a container van in just 2.5 minutes, faster than the usual 10-minute unloading time in an ordinary port. The only other port in Mindanao which has a gantry crane is the old Cagayan de Oro port.

The Mindanao Container Terminal, said Mr. Clarito, is doubling its promotions to increase its clientele. In November last year, the first Mindanao Logistics Conference, which gathered logistics officers from Mindanao, was held there.

The conference sought to build a northern to southern Mindanao commercial corridor, which would allow greater mobility for goods and economic development in the regions.

The terminal was constructed in 2001 at the cost of P2.2 billion, with the bulk of the funding from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, and the rest from the Phividec Industrial Authority. It started operations in 2004. — Louise G. Dumas

from BusinessWorld

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