New Philippine operator takes over port
New Philippine port operator Manila North Harbour Port, Inc. (MNHPI) took over operations of Manila North Harbour on Sunday evening. Service providers at the port remain concerned about a rise in service and bunkering fees planned by the new port operator. A 5% fee on ancillary services including bunkering services for ships at the harbour may be applied by private operator MNHPI, a move that would impact shipping operation costs and subsequently freight and passenger fares.
''They (MNHPI) will impose the fee because they are a private company,'' a source from bunker supplier Petrotrade Philippines, Inc. told Bunkerworld.
''Fortunately most of our international bunker deliveries are made in the South Harbour, so the fee at North Harbour would have little impact on our business,'' he said.
''MNHPI is expected to impose the fee in May or June,'' he added.
MNHPI is 65% owned by Romero Group's Harbour Center Port Terminal Inc. and 35% by Metro Pacific Investments Corp.
Philippine bunker suppliers and shipping firms have lobbied against the hike of the service fee, with support from the Philippine Liner Shipping Association (PLSA).
The association has filed a legal case against the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), its board members and MNHPI at the Supreme Court, asking for a temporary restraining order to prevent the Romero Group from operating the port.
The liner group is asking the High Court to nullify the contract due to several provisions that will drive up the cost of business at Manila North Harbour.
PLSA, one of the biggest groups of vessels operating in Manila North Harbour, said they allowed MNHPI to handle their cargo at the moment, but under protest, so as not to disrupt its service to the public.
PLSA has threatened to hold a shipping holiday sometime this week if its concerns were not addressed by PPA and MNHPI.
The PPA is currently assisting the new operator to avoid disruptions to its services to the public, and to ensure the smooth flow of cargo handling operations in the country's largest domestic port.
''As the operator has just taken over the port, we are still waiting for new developments and do not know whether the 5% fee will eventually be imposed,'' Fil R Santos, general manager of Marine Fuels Philippines, Inc., told Bunkerworld.