Biz sector opposes proposed value of Davao port modernization projectBy Digna D. (Philippines News Agency)

Biz sector opposes proposed value of Davao port modernization projectBy Digna D. (Philippines News Agency)

Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCCII) is strongly opposing the Davao Sasa Port Modernization (DSPM) project under a proposed cost value of P17 billion.

DCCCII president Antonio dela Cruz disclosed at the Club 888 Forum of the Marco Polo Hotel on Wednesday that the business sector in Davao City has asked government to review the plan of the modernization project of the Sasa port in Davao City.

Cruz said they had submitted their position paper to the Investment Ombudsman in order for this body to look closely into the matter.

He said this has long been an advocacy of the public and private sectors of Davao City because a strong maritime industry is the required backbone for the city’s economic growth particularly export.

However, he said “the project should be above-board”.

As indicated in the position paper, it said that the Sasa Port cargo-handling is shared by two companies giving shippers and users a choice. Under the DSPM Project there will be a monopoly of one company doing all the cargo handling.

A review of the DSPM Project plan shows that it does not include any design for bulk and break-bulk cargoes which is a main operation for agri-based, export-oriented economy such as the Davao Region. Major bulk cargoes include fertilizers and farming inputs, equipment, and materials that are shipped in bulk.

There is also no design or input for large domestic and international cruise ships, a deficiency that is at odds with the thrust of the local and national governments to prioritize the growth of the tourism industry of the city and the Davao region.

Cruz made a comparison of the cost of the major ports in the Davao gulf, namely the DICT in Panabo City with an area of 8.8 hectares for a capacity of 400T TEU with costing at P2.5 billion, Hijo Terminal in Tagum City of 58 hectares with 1-2M TEU capacity for P5.7 billion while the proposed DSP in Sasa for an 18-hectare area with costing at P17 billion.

Cruz said Davao City deserves nothing less than transparency and forthrightness in all decisions of the government that directly affect them.

The DCCCII, he said also forwarded its position on the Sasa Port project to the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCCII) in addition to the position paper submitted by the Mindanao Business Council through its chair Vicente Lao that is also opposed to the project.

Meanwhile, Cruz said they will create a team to look deeper into the matter. They will also closely monitor what steps will be taken by the government authorities.

Former city councilor Peter Lavina has been calling on the national government to hold off the bidding of the project and revisit its plan.

“We are not against modernization, however, it should factor in actual needs of the city and the Davao Gulf Region,” he said.

He said only locals can best plan and decide on what we need, what we want.

“Foreign experts from the IFC/World Bank cannot be better than the business leaders and the people for our city in this regard,” he said. (PNA) CTB/LCM/DDB/ldp