DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/29 May) – The local government welcomed the approval of the Philippine Ports Authority on the unsolicited proposal of the Dennis Uy-led Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corporation to modernize the decades-old 80,000-square meter Sasa Port in Davao City.
Christian Cambaya, investor assistance and servicing unit head at Davao Investment Promotions Center (DCIPC), said on Wednesday it’s about time to modernize the port because it’s crucial to trade.
“We need the port because the port is very crucial in the export and import, in the trading of goods from Davao to other parts of the word. Basically, if you look at the factor of the economic growth, it’s crucial to have a port that is upgraded and modernized, he said.
Mayor Sara Duterte said in her 2nd State of the City Address in October 2018 that the national government allotted an initial budget of P2 billion to start the port upgrading, three years after attempts to start the modernization were scrapped during the Aquino administration due to lack of consultation with the city government, local stakeholders, and private sector.
The P2 billion would be allocated for the general upgrading of the general cargo berthing facilities and the port area to increase capacity, according to Duterte.
The proposed modernization of Sasa Port, the country’s third busiest and Mindanao’s major port, was pushed through after being recommended by the Regional Development Council and the City Development Council under Mayor Duterte.
The modernization plan became controversial in 2015 when the Department of Transportation (formerly the Department of Transportation and Communication) under then secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya put the bid cost at P17 billion as recommended by German consultants hired by International Finance Corp. of the World Bank.
The cost was higher by more than three folds from its original cost of P4 billion set by the PPA.
The private sector here objected to the planned modernization then due to alleged overpricing while the city council rejected it due to lack of prior consultation and approval from the local government.
Udenna Corporation, another company owned by Uy, is also set to develop the city’s 39.4-kilometer intracity urban rail transit system and airport modernization projects. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)