The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) are once again unveiling another flagship seaport project forming part of the Build-Build-Build initiative of the Duterte administration, seven months before the President ends his term.
The Zamboanga seaport development projects, which involve several aspects—expansion of the back-up area, the extension of RC Pier, and the provision of the port lighting system, among others—are aimed at facilitating the growing trade in the Zamboanga Peninsula particularly sardine exports to the mainland US, Europe, and the Far East.
DOTr and PPA are likewise highlighting another major project at the Zamboanga Port, the construction of a new Passenger Terminal Building (PTB), which when completed, will be the biggest PTB in the country as it can accommodate approximately 4,500 passengers at any given time.
PPA General Manager Jay Santiago said these projects will play a vital role particularly for the economy of Zamboanga which is still recovering from the aftereffects of the so-called “Zamboanga Siege” in 2013 and aggravated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We recognize the specific needs of all regions that is why the DOTr and PPA try to balance and distribute the projects all over the country,” Santiago said.
“With the port, being the gateway port for the entire Zamboanga Peninsula and predominantly of the country’s sardine export receipts, these seaport projects will ensure access to the international market at the most competitive cost until we can fully recover from the pandemic,” Santiago explained.
“More importantly, we are doing this without any additional cost impact to the Government’s general fund as we are funding these projects using internally-generated funds with no need for any kind of loan,” Santiago said.
The completed Zamboanga seaport expansion projects reinvigorated the port as it can now handle at least 11,000 shipcalls annually from only 8,000 shipcalls in 2015.
The port’s cargo capacity also doubled to at least 3 million metric tons (MMT) annually compared to its 2015 capacity of only 1.5 MMT.
Passenger capacity, on the other hand, is now at 3.5 million passengers annually from only 2 million during the previous administration. However, two years from now, the capacity is expected to jump to more than 6 million once the new PTB is completed which has a static capacity of 4,500 persons at any given time.
To date, the DOTr and PPA have completed 484 seaport projects nationwide and some 100 more projects are ongoing. Projects in the pipeline, which will commence before the term of the President ends include the further expansion of the Abra de Ilog and Balatero ports in Mindoro as well as the Culasi port in Capiz and Jagna port in Bohol.
In Mindanao, several proposals are under review but expected to be posted for bidding the soonest time possible.
“There is no let-up in the race towards the dream of the President to give Filipinos comfortable lives. The DOTr, under the leadership of Secretary Art Tugade, and the PPA continue to step-up the pace to gain further momentum for a lasting Duterte legacy,” Santiago said.