LAWMAKERS are urging the Duterte administration to prioritize the modernization project of the Subic Container Port to decongest Metro Manila and ease the traffic jams in the capital which have caused productivity losses of at least P2.4 million a day.
Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III said Saturday goods and commodities intended for Central and Northern Luzon no longer need to pass through Metro Manila if Subic’s operations are optimized.
“It is indeed a great idea. It is about time we discussed the Subic Port modernization project,” Albano said.
Albano’s statement followed a study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency which showed that Subic, given its strategic assets, is equipped to acquire a higher share of the country’s growing container cargo volume.
Subic’s location will also ensure a shorter point of entry for cargoes arriving from or going to Singapore.
Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone also said prioritizing the Subic port modernization project in the government’s menu of solutions to the traffic woes in Metro Manila will also spur economic growth across Central and North Luzon.
“I fully support such proposal. It will greatly help decongest Manila,” he said.
“Anything that will lessen the movement of people and vehicles in Metro Manila is a welcome development,” Parañaque City Rep. Gus Tambunting himself added.
The Subic Container Port is a significant component of the Subic-Clark Alliance for Development (SCAD) strategy, which includes the construction of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTex), and the Clark International Airport to form a global logistics hub and international gateway for Central Luzon.
However, the port, which can easily absorb northbound cargoes, has remained underutilized.
The Jica study showed there is a capacity shortage of 14 million 20-foot equivalent units or TEUs (the capacity unit of container ships) for the Pacific Region, with Singapore already reaching its limit and Hong Kong remaining severely silted.
Subic Container Port has a capacity of 600,000 TEUs, but by 2012, the volume remained at less than 40,000 TEUs.
Albano stressed that a fully modernized port in Subic means that there is a sufficient volume at Subic Port that is worth marketing to vessel lines.
There is also cost advantage ranging from $100 to $200 per TEU for shippers from Pampanga and Zambales to ship through Subic rather than from the traffic congested Manila ports, he said.
A 2014 Jica study has warned that productivity losses could reach P6 billion a day in 2030 if the traffic mess is not solved.
Lawmakers have cited this as basis for proposals to grant President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers to address the traffic problem in Metro Manila.