DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 20 March) – The proposed modernization of the decades-old Sasa Port in Davao City, the country’s third busiest and Mindanao’s major port, will push through under a public-private partnership, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) 11 director Maria Lourdes D. Lim said on Tuesday.
In an interview during the launch of the Davao Region Public-Private Partnership Knowledge Corner, Lim told reporters the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) is working on the draft terms of reference for submission to and approval by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) by the second quarter.
Once approved, the project worth closely P6 billion will be placed for bidding, Lim added.
The modernization plan of the 80,000-square meter port became controversial in 2015 when the DOTr (formerly Department of Transportation and Communication) under then secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya pegged the bid cost at P17 billion.
The amount, recommended by German consultants hired by International Finance Corp. of the World Bank, was more than four times higher than the original cost of P4 billion set by the PPA.
The private sector here objected to the alleged overpricing while the city council opposed it for lack of prior consultation and approval by the local government.
Pushed by Regional Development Council and the City Development Council under Mayor Sara Duterte, Lim said the DOTr has reenrolled the port’s modernization in the PPP program to tap the “private sector expertise in terms of design, and construction of the facilities in this modernized port facility”
“We will not only be limited to what the DOTr can offer but also the international expertise in terms of providing necessary facilities for seaport that would serve the shipping needs of the region and other stakeholders in Mindanao,” she added.
She said they expect to modernize the gantry, cranes, and extended berthing spaces of the port once the rehabilitation is completed before the end of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s term by 2022.
“That should be a competitive facility, one that can provide convenience, efficient services to our shippers both for domestic and international shipping transactions,” Lim said, adding Mindanao’s major seaport will have complete customs, immigration, and quarantine services operated 24/7.
She said the region’s two modern ports owned by Anflocor’s Davao International Container Terminal in Panabo and Hijo International Port Services of the Hijo Resources Corporation in Tagum City can provide competitive alternative choices for shipping companies that could “play an integrated port services system for Davao Region and Mindanao shippers.”
“This is not to crowd out the efficient port services in Panabo and Tagum. We have recognized the vital role played by the private sector,” she clarified.
She said she is not privy to the companies that have already expressed interest to bid for the new modernization plan.
In the previous plan, the companies that placed their bids included Asian Terminals Inc. – DP World FZE Consortium, Bollore Africa Logistics, International Container Terminal Services Inc., Portek International Pte. Ltd. – National Marine Corp. Consortium, and San Miguel Holdings Corp. – APM Terminals Management (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. Consortium. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)