02 October 2014

DOTC: No need to expand Manila ports

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is looking at the expansion of ports outside Manila such as Subic, Batangas and Cebu and the construction of a new port in Manila Bay.

DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said government would get a consultant from the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Center to undertake a feasibility study for a plan to build a new port in in Sangley Point, Cavite and the expansion of Batangas and Subic Ports.

“Manila ports should not be expanded anymore. (Planning Secretary Arsenio) Balisacan said we have to expand outside Metro Manila , grow Subic and grow Batangas. In that way, we can spread the growth and decongest Metro Manila,” Abaya said.

For Manila ports, Abaya said the long-term plan is to rehabilitate and redesign them into city ports with real estate.

“I personally do not see the need to further expand (Manila ports) otherwise there will be more congestion on our roads, not on our ports. Eventually we’ll hit the ceiling in Manila ports,” Abaya said.

Abaya said Balisacan would rather expand Batangas and Subic because this would help spread development in rural, provincial areas.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has proposed to place a cap on Manila ports’ expansion and facilitate the diversion of cargo volume to Batangas and Subic Port to decongest roads to Manila.

“Shift cargo-handling function of Metro Manila to Subic and Batangas through controlling of future expansion of Manila ports and providing incentives to use Subic and Batangas Port,” said the JICA study on the Roadmap for Transport Infrastructure Development for Metro Manila and its surrounding areas.

Based on the JICA proposed short-term program for 2014 to 2016, over P 12 billion worth of expansion and modernization projects are set for the Manila ports: P6 billion for North Harbor, P1 billion for South Harbor and P4 billion for Manila international container terminal.

A proposed feasibility study estimates the cost of the North Harbor redevelopment at P 75 million and for other ports expansion and modernization, P 1 billion.

As part of the initiatives to decongest the Manila port, President Aquino declared the ports of Batangas and Subic Bay as extensions of the Port of Manila in response to the present port congestion problem. (Myla Iglesias, Malaya Business Insight)