Singapore reopens disused container terminals to alleviate bottlenecks

May 30 2024

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said on 30 May that operations at shuttered container terminals in the city-state’s downtown have been temporarily resumed to ease the backlog of ships queueing to dock in the world’s second busiest port.

MPA said, “We’ve seen large increases in container volumes and the ‘bunching’ of container vessel arrivals over the previous months due to supply chain disruptions in upstream locations.”

Singapore processed 13.36 million TEU between January and April, up nearly 9% over the same period last year.


More off-schedule boxship arrivals and the increased container volumes have resulted in longer vessels’ wait time for a container berth. While most container vessels are berthed on arrival, port operator PSA has worked with liners to adjust arrival schedules where feasible, and where this is not feasible, MPA said that the average waiting time for container vessels is about two to three days. However, other industry estimates are that ships have had to wait up to five days to berth.

The increased demand for container handling in Singapore is a result of several container lines discharging more containers in Singapore as they forgo subsequent voyages to catch up on their next schedules. The number of containers handled per vessel has also increased.

MPA continued, “Added to these demands, container lines are also leveraging PSA’s cargo handling capabilities to help manage their containers stowage onboard vessels to facilitate expeditious discharge of cargo for their subsequent port calls. This is a sign of the confidence that container liners have in our port.”

Since late 2023, when the Red Sea crisis caused vessels to reroute round the Cape of Good Hope, MPA and the Ministry of Transport (MOT) have been working with PSA to prepare for more ship arrivals.

port of singapore

As a result of reopening the previously defunct Keppel Terminal, PSA can increase the number of containers handled weekly from 770,000 TEU to a total of 820,000 TEU currently.

In addition to the eight existing berths in Tuas Port, three new berths will commence operations later this year. This will increase overall port handling capacity.

PSA plans to accelerate the commissioning of these new berths to help increase overall container handling capacity in the near term. MPA and PSA are working closely with mainline operators and regional feeder operators to update them on their berth availability and advising them on the arrival times to minimise delays in berthing.

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