“The average volume of cargo handled in a month is between 77,000 and 87,000 TEUs.
“In August last year, NBCT handled 85,505 TEUs and in August 2007, it was 78,624 TEUs,” Obaid told StarBiz, adding that it handled 87,879 TEUs in July.
He said NBCT was now optimistic the total volume of cargo handled this year would not decline by 5.5% as forecast in July.
“Cargo-handling activities in the fourth quarter should remain stable and NBCT should handle as much cargo this year as it did in 2008, which was 929,000 TEUs.
“We expect a lot of cargo such as furniture products and consumer electrical goods such as televisions, washing machines and refrigerators to arrive at NBCT in the fourth quarter, as wholesalers in the north would be stocking up to prepare for the festive season,” he said.
Obaid said the increased cargo-handling activities in August was due to a number of factors.
These include the greater volume of rubber-based cargo from southern Thailand exported via NBCT to other parts of Asia, the higher imports of steel scrap by steel mills in the north, and a bigger volume of empty containers coming from the Middle East and India.
“Empty containers comprised about 25% of the volume handled. They generate revenue as NBCT levies handling charges on their owners,” he said.
Export of rubber-based cargo and import of steel scrap were key indicators that the economy in the region was picking up, Obaid said.
“It shows that the effects of the stimulus packages are already kicking in. The import of steel scrap is an indicator that development projects in the north are resuming.”
Obaid said NBCT expected to handle over 80,000 TEUs of cargo this month.
He said the slight drop was expected as the bulk of restocking activities had taken place in August.
“The new seven post-Panamax gantry cranes worth RM175mil, coming in October, will increase the volume of cargo handled annually to over one million TEUs,” he said.
The cranes would be put into action in the second quarter next year, he added.