Operations of the P97-million Integrated Transport Station at the Ninoy Aquino Avenue here started Tuesday with City Mayor Rodolfo Gantuangco leading the opening ceremony.
Gantuangco has ordered its Civil Security Unit (CSU), to employ tighter measures to secure passengers and vehicles from any terror attack or any form of harassment.
Around 20 CSU members were deployed in different parts of the bus station, including a bomb watch group tasked to report to authorities any suspicious-looking person and baggage.
Non-uniformed personnel were also deployed as additional force.
Five years ago, the city’s old public terminal located at the poblacion was bombed, killing eight people and injuring several others, many of whom were commuters and small-time vendors.
“We can’t allow it to happen again here,” said one of the city officials that attended the opening ceremony.
The new terminal is just a few meters away from the old and is considered one of the finest overland terminals in Southwestern Mindanao.
The city government hopes the new terminal, aside from helping address problems on congestion, could help improve the city’s tourism and economy.
Pepito Caasi, one of the first few passengers from nearby Cotabato City who used the overland station, likened it to a tourist class waiting lounge in an airport.
The bus station is equipped with 12 loading platforms for buses, six waiting sheds for passengers, and a more convenient and wider loading area for public utility vans.
It has two security offices; six restrooms; two snack bars; 74 fruit stalls; and 30 eateries which guarantee maximum convenience for all commuters.
Although the construction was completed in August last year, the city had to wait for a go signal from the Commission on Audit (CoA) which conducted a thorough investigation o the construction.
Gantuangco appointed City Administrator Rodolfo Cabiles, Jr., as the station manager, and Engineer Elmer Limpot as the operations manager.
The construction of the station was funded out of a P47-million loan from the Asian Development Bank through the Land Bank of the Philippines; P9-million grant under the Mindanao Basic Urban Social Services Program (MBUSSP) of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and funds from the city government.
The city purchased the four-hectare terminal site, declared a commercial area since 2004, for P26 million. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)