Facilities at Makar Port in GenSan to be upgraded

SNIFFER. A K9 handler of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency leads a dog to check for possible drugs in a container van that contained hundreds of boxes of cigarettes misdeclared as box-making materials at the Makar Port in General Santos City on Wednesday (3 June 2020). MindaNews photo by ROMMEL G. REBOLLIDO

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 24 September) – More major projects are lined up for implementation at the Makar Port here in the coming months in line with the continuing modernization of the country’s port operations.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said the development plans are being finalized for the further upgrading and expansion of the existing facilities at the port, which is a key part of the country’s domestic and international shipping routes.

Tugade personally led on Thursday afternoon the inauguration of the wharf’s new P62.8-million Port Operations Building (POB) and other support facilities implemented by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).

“There will be more projects coming in that we will announce in due time,” he said in a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

PPA said the POB complex is a “state-of-the-art facility” that is expected to ease the movement of vessels, cargo, and other port-related traffic compared to its old complex.

The completed projects included a multi-function sports facility intended “to promote work-life balance among its employees and port workers and at the same time provide a venue to hold meetings and controlled gatherings compliant with the new normal.”

Lawyer Cesar Dataya, head of PPA-Socsargen Port Management Office, said the new POB building hosts its Port Integrated Clearance Office, which is a one-stop shop for various shipping transactions.

He said these include the processing of permits and necessary documentation for marine and terminal services, berthing, public assistance and complaints, and assessment and collection services.

“All transactions are now being processed in the same building. Requirements that previously took seven days or more can now be accomplished in a matter of minutes and a few hours for complicated matters,” he said.

Dataya said the improved services will mainly benefit cargo shippers and other port clients and stakeholders.

Tugade urged PPA employees here to make good use of the new improvements and further strive to perform better.

He directed them to further cut down the processing time for all their transactions and build a “culture of no corruption.”

“Erase the fixers and kill corruption in whatever form. Let us strive to work for the people and for good governance,” he said.

The Makar Port is the main gateway of products being shipped out from parts of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and this city or Region 12.

Among the top products that pass through the port en route to the international markets are tuna and its by-products, pineapple, and banana.

As of June this year, a PPA report said the port has handled around 1.7 million metric tons (MMT) of cargo, half of its annual average of 3.4 MMT.

In 2020, the port handled 3.438 MMT of cargo, which dropped by about 4 percent from the 3.594 MMT in 2019. (MindaNews)