Subic is key to solving Metro traffic–Senator Marcos
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Fed up with the horrific traffic problem in Metro Manila, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. counted the ways this free port can help facilitate decongestion in the country’s capital region.
Marcos described the Subic Bay Freeport as a “duplicate key” to unlocking Metro Manila’s urban problems during the general membership meeting of the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce here on Thursday.
He said Metro Manila’s gridlock is tied to port congestion.
“Subic has the inherent capacity to establish itself as a viable alternative, to provide a significant deal of relief to the urban decongestion in Metro Manila,” Marcos said.
However, this potential remains untapped, he said.
“Nobody [has been] safe from this huge and disorganized network of detention cells with wheels trapped on the roads,” Marcos said, referring to Metro Manila’s traffic jams.
Rather than being stuck in traffic for nine hours, Marcos said he would have preferred to go home to Ilocos Norte than “suffer the ultimate yet pointless test of patience” while on the road.
Citing 2013 records from the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), Marcos said the utilization rate of Manila ports is 79 percent while Subic is only 6.2 percent.
He said this free port’s logistics capacity has remained underutilized, despite having adequate infrastructure and facilities. Marcos said Neda, in 2014, approved the so-called “Dream Plan,” a transport-oriented development strategy and blueprint.
“The Dream Plan strongly recommends the increased utilization of the Subic Bay Freeport as a primary long-term solution [to port congestion],” he said.
Aside from the necessary port infrastructures already in place, Subic is strategically located near Clark International Airport and is linked up by expressways to northern Luzon and Metro Manila, he said.
These expressways are the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx), Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) and Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx).
“Subic is starting to attract more and more business, giving Manila ports a run—or a voyage—for their money,” he said. “At the rate that the Subic port is going, its 2015 target of 20-percent utilization is definitely not far-fetched and is very much achievable.”
Earlier, Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, head of Cabinet cluster on port congestion, confirmed that the free port was ready to serve as an alternative port facility for international shipping firms to decongest the Port of Manila.
“Subic Bay has so much potential because of its existing port, infrastructure, roads and electricity supply,” Almendras said during the second Subic Bay Maritime Conference and Exhibit held here in April.
In a position paper presented during the conference, officials of different business groups in Central Luzon called for the passage of a bill that would allow foreign shipping lines to transship cargoes in the country.
“The passage of the bill will broaden the market of Subic free port outside Luzon,” the business groups said.
The position paper was signed by the presidents of various chambers of commerce and exporters and investors in Pampanga and in this free port.
Roberto Garcia, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority chair, said Subic Bay offers “exciting prospects” as a booming logistics hub and investment destination in Asia.
Garcia said the Port of Subic handled cargoes equivalent to 77,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) last year.
The figure, Garcia said, was 105-percent higher than the 37,400 TEUs in 2013.
“This year we aspire to hit a target volume of 120,000 TEUs combined annual capacity of the port’s New Container Terminal 1 and 2,” Garcia said.
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