CONTAINER terminal operators will explain their requirements for extra back-up land to members of the Legco panel on economic services and public utilities when the group visits Kwai Chung container terminals on Saturday. The visit to Modern Terminals (MTL) is part of a harbour tour to boost the panel's understanding of port operations and development plans. The 10-member group, led by Roger Luk, will be accompanied by Economic Services Director Gordon Siu, Port Development Board secretary Tony Clark, and Marine Department officials. They will be briefed by officials of Hong Kong International Terminals (HIT) and MTL. HIT managing director John Meredith said any land granted now would not be ready for use to cope with the summer rush for Christmas shipments. He said the land should have been granted last month for preparation and use over the peak periods in July and August. MTL managing director Mark Leese said discussions with panel members will follow-up the joint presentation made to the panel by HIT and MTL in January outlining the capacity shortfalls the terminals will face between now and 1999. It was pointed out that at 15 per cent growth rates in container throughput, the shortfall would reach one million TEUs (20 foot equivalent units) by then. Hong Kong handled 9.3 million TEUs last year and, according to forecast, the figure will exceed 10 million this year. In view of the long delay in the construction of Terminal 9, HIT and MTL want the land adjacent to the terminals allocated to them to increase capacity in the short-term. HIT claims it can produce an extra one million TEUs of capacity a year from its 10 berths with the allocation of 34 hectares of additional back-up land which is available adjacent to its existing facilities. MTL, which has 5.5 berths at Kwai Chung, says by acquiring eight hectares of land and 300 metres of quay wall, it can increase capacity at Terminal 8 by 300,000 TEUs a year, with adequate berthing areas for barge traffic from China. MTL has two berths at Terminal 8. The other two belong to a joint venture of HIT and China Ocean Shipping Corp. Since the joint presentation in January, HIT and MTL have written to the Government reiterating their cases. Mr Leese said MTL had not yet finalised its request for extra land behind its three terminals which have long faced a land shortage because their container stacking areas are small and landlocked. He said consultants had been commissioned to identify land for use as back-up area behind the three terminals. He said the only land available was the Kwai Chung Park, but road and rail links for the new airport were being routed through that site. By acquiring some land there, the capacity of the three terminals could be increased by 150,000 TEUs a year, he said.