Stalemate at Banago Port-A A +A
Thursday, June 28, 2012
I WAS at Banago Port yesterday, partly because I was invited to the inauguration of the Banago Port Passenger Terminal and Port Management Office building and also because it has been so long I can no longer remember when I last saw Banago Port.
The port is already a far cry from what I remembered. What used to be wooden planks during the days when we boarded Negros Navigation’s M/V Don Julio and M/V Don Vicente to Iloilo are now concrete pavements.
On both sides of the road leading to the ships’ berth are concrete barriers to ensure that vehicles don’t take off on an amphibious launch, like what that Pajero did in Bredco last December of 2010.
Sure, Banago Port had its share of vehicular mishaps in the past. I can still remember that “Jesse” vehicle which used to ply the Victorias to Banago route and which fell overboard, though I can’t remember if there were casualties or not. (It sure can’t beat the Pajero caper at Bredco, though.)
What used to be a makeshift passenger terminal when I was still a kid is now an imposing Spanish-designed concrete building, a project of the Philippine Ports Authority under the initiative of Bacolod Rep. Anthony Golez.
Golez said that the project is just a taste of what is in store for Bacolod, if the P700M to P800 modernization of Banago Port pushes through.
With the port’s modernization, it will be cheaper for producers to export their products from the province to other islands.
It will benefit consumers, as it will be cheaper to bring products into the province through the government-owned Banago Port rather than through the privately-operated Bredco Port. This reduction in shipping and handling costs will presumably translate to lower-priced products.
Great! That is, if it pushes through.
Banago Port and the surrounding foreshore area used to be leased by Negros Navigation. Part of the lease, which covers part of the port and the foreshore area, expired last August 2009 and its use reverted to the government. However, part of the port and the foreshore area is still under Negros Navigation.
So we have Banago Port, part of which is under the government’s jurisdiction and the other part is still under Negros Navigation’s control. Which part is which?
That’s the rub. Unless it can be properly delineated which part belongs to the government and which part belongs to the private sector, government funds cannot be mobilized to develop and modernize Banago Port.
According to Golez, he has already asked Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia last year yet to expedite the approval of the Port Zone Delineation so that the port development can proceed. Until now, he has not heard anything from City Hall, said Golez yesterday.
Golez laid the blame for the delay in Banago Port’s development squarely at Leonardia’s doorstep.
Can’t blame Leonardia, if indeed he is dragging his feet on the matter.
If Golez gets his way, many Bacolodnons will be employed in the project and Golez will win the goodwill of the project’s prospective beneficiaries.
That scenario definitely will not be to the advantage of Leonardia, who covets the post occupied by Golez.
The mayor will deny standing in the way of the project, citing technicalities, legalities and even kinamatis. Golez will insist in pushing through with the project, citing economic development of the city and the province.
In the end, Banago Port’s modernization will remain a piece of parchment on the drawing board, as both Bacolod’s top executive official and top legislative official jockey for political advantage in the coming 2013 polls.
(For reactions and suggestions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 28, 2012.