RESEARCHERS from Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) said the modernization of the Davao Sasa Port has to be pushed through being the best strategic point for trade in Davao City despite its apparent inadequacies.
AdDU Center for Business Research and Extension Director Cleofe Arib said she made a study last year, along with other researchers, on the current status of the port and the interventions needed to be done to modernize the operations and systems of the Davao Sasa Port.
"As part of our study to determine the measures, we did not consider the idea of transferring the location of the port just like what the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) recommended since its current location is incomparable to its neighboring private ports such as the Hijo International Container (HIC) and the Davao International Container Terminal (DCIT)," she said.
Arib said Sasa Port's location offers natural protection from strong winds and powerful waves needed for safe berthing and anchorage without having to construct breakwaters anymore.
The draft of its wharf, she said, is also at 10 meters deep which is sufficient to accommodate larger ships with minimal dredging needed. Also, necessary supports such as depots, warehouses, shipping agents, and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) are already in place.
"Thus, researchers are recommending few measures to solve the three main problems in the port which are the congestion, traffic, and productivity issues," Arib said.
She said there are available idle land just within the Davao Sasa Port compound, based on the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) reports, that could be utilized to store additional containers.
The total number of containers that can be stored in the mentioned area, Arib said, is 750,000 twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs). When these will be included to the existing capacity of the port which is 500,000 TEUs then it will bring to a total of 1.2 million TEUs annual capacity.
Arib also said researchers came up with a solution of opening another road going to Sasa Port as traffic issues in coming in and out of the port has been a daily problem ever since.
"But the whole problem of the port lies with the poor operational practices so there is a need to properly implement new established guidelines which shall be made by either PPA, Department of Transportation (DOTr), or both together," she said.
Once the modernization is done, she said the Davao Sasa Port could return its millions of income loss from 2015 up to the present in seven to eight years.
Arib said their study was already sent to PPA and DOTr who showed positive responses. They will further discuss with the two agencies to craft the final decision on the port modernization.
Last June, PPA has requested DOTr to ask the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) to cancel the P19 billion Davao Sasa Port Modernization project due to issues on the cost and parameters of the deal.
On the initial plan of the PPA, the project was estimated to cost close to P5 billion.
Transportation and Communications Secretary Arthur Tugade said last June that the final decision on the modernization plan will be out later this year as there is a need for a thorough study on the port.
Tugade said he will not oppose the proposal if it will help the economy of the city but they will have consultations with the local stakeholders first.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on September 10, 2017.
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