Ex-councilor questions hike in port modernization cost

May. 18, 2015

DAVAO CITY – A former councilor questioned the huge increase in the cost of proposed Sasa Port modernization project under the flagship Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program.

“The official study of PPA (Philippine Ports Authority) 2013 said the modernization will cost four billion pesos. Now three years after, the DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communications) is rushing the project. They hired DBP (Development Bank of the Philippines) and the IFC (International Finance Corp.) of the World Bank (WB) to do another study that pegged the project cost at 17 billion pesos,” said former city councilor Peter Laviña.

He said that the estimated cost for this project is “highly questionable” given that Hijo Port project in Tagum City was only at  5.7 billion pesos; the project was  undertaken by Hijo Resources and the country’s largest container port operator, International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI).

According to the website of ICTSI, the Hijo Port project will have a 54-hectare terminal area with an initial capacity of 450,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) per year and has a potential capacity of up to two million TEUs on full development.

Meanwhile, the Sasa Port has only a total area of 18.1 hectares inclusive of a 4.15-hectare container yard. Its current annual capacity is 550,000 TEUs.

“I’ve been calling the attention of the City Council, the concerned agencies, the PPA and DOTC, and now we have to write to the Office of Ombudsman to get the attention of the national government,” he said.

The City Council on its regular session last May 12 has invited Leonilo Miole of PPA to answer the issue. Miole, however, denied that the local PPA have any involvement in the project aside from providing data, statistics and helping in the inspection of area.

Laviña said that he hopes that after series of session, the City Council would come up with a resolution for this matter.

He also said that there is a speculation that this project is part of the fundraising scheme for the forthcoming elections.

He added that the DOTC and PPA as well as DBP and IFC should come clean on this controversial issue.

“PPA and DOTC have to explain to the people of Davao how come the price of PPA which has the mandate, the expertise and the experience in developing and running ports, have been ignored and they are now going into the study made by the bankers,” he said.

He added that such big cost will burden the taxpayers, port users and consumers. (davaotoday.com)

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