DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/10 August)—The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has set a multi-billion peso rehabilitation or expansion involving a total of 61 air and sea ports in Mindanao to further enhance the trade and tourism potentials of the island.
DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the agency has identified 46 seaports and 15 airports across Mindanao to undergo major facelifts until the end of the term of the Aquino administration in 2016.
Citing the archipelagic nature of Mindanao, he noted that the improvement of sea and air transportation facilities is a key priority of the agency “to bring inclusive growth to everyone in the island.”
“A big challenge [for Mindanao] is how to move goods quickly in bulk and at a lesser cost so as to keep the price of doing business down,” Abaya said Friday at the 22nd Mindanao Business Conference (MinBizCon).
Abaya singled out the expansion of Sasa port here as a key priority to accommodate its increasing cargo traffic, noting the seven-hour waiting time for ships to call at the port.
The modernization of the Sasa port is expected to cost P10 billion and, subject to the approval of the National Economic and Development Authority, the port’s operation and maintenance will be privatized to improve efficiency, he said.
Abaya also disclosed that the agency is seeking the development of the P56.5 billion Central Spine RoRo (roll on, roll off) project, which would cut travel time from Manila to Mindanao from two days to just 20 hours.
The project involves the construction and integration of a transport system combining RoRo ferry ports and toll roads to form a Manila-Panay-Negros-Cebu-Bohol-Northern Mindanao route, he said.
Abaya said the agency is also pursuing the ASEAN RoRo initiative that will make use of regional sealanes to enhance maritime connectivity in the 10-nation economic bloc.
The project involves a route between General Santos City and Bitung, Indonesia, with the possible inclusion of Davao City via a private port in Lanang.
This year’s MinBizCon was themed “Moving Towards ASEAN Business Integration.” It was hosted by the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc.
The DOTC’s Philippine Ports Authority will undertake the rehabilitation and expansion of seaport facilities.
Abaya said the DOTC is also seeking improvement in air transport facilities to boost tourism arrivals and provide easier access to key destinations in the island.
He cited the recently completed Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental as among the major achievements of the government in developing Mindanao’s air transportation facilities.
Abaya vouched for the safety of the Laguindingan Airport despite lacking an instrument landing system.
Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, an agency under the DOTC, would undertake the airport rehabilitation projects.
The 15 airports included in the DOTC’s rehabilitation or expansion project are located in Dipolog, Pagadian, Zamboanga, Camiguin, Cagayan de Oro, Ozamiz, Davao, General Santos, Butuan, Siargao, Surigao, Jolo, Sanga-sanga in Tawi-tawi, Cotabato and M’lang in North Cotabato.
The 46 ports are the Dipolog Feeder Port, Palid Wharf, Lawigan Port, Brgy. Baluno Port (Naga), Solar Port, Katipunan Port, Zamboanga Port and Dapitan Port in Zamboanga Peninsula; Kaputian Port, Lupon Port, Balingoan Port, Plaridel Port, Benoni Port, Cagayan de Oro Port, Iligan Port, Ozamiz Port and Balbagon Port in Northern Mindanao; and Davao-Sasa Port, Babak Port, Mati Port, Maco Port and Tagpopongan in Davao region.
The others are the Batuganding Wharf, Mabila Port,
Kiamba Port and General Santos Port in Soccsksargen or Region 12; Placer Port, Monserrat Port, Malimono Port, Gigaquit Port, Melgar Wharf, Ruben Ecleo Sr. Port, Nasipit Port, Aras-asan Port, Cantilan Port, Dapa Port, Jubang (Dapa),
Doña Helene Port (Bucas Island), Masao Port and Pantukan Port in Caraga region; and Polloc Port and Jolo Port in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)