Sona ports not generating income

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010


THE Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) reported that the so-called "Sona ports" constructed in Eastern Visayas remain to be idle and not generating income for the government.

Eastern Visayas has five "Sona ports," the name mentioned by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during her State of the Nation Address (Sona) in 2006.

These ports are located in Maripipi, Kawayan and Naval, all in Biliran province; and Limasawa and San Ricardo in Southern Leyte. These ports were constructed from the period of 2007-2009 with combined cost of P210.44 million.

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The Naval port was constructed at a cost of P52.80 million; the Kawayan port, P13.94 million; Maripipi port, P53.77 million; Limasawa port, P18.3 million; and the San Ricardo port, P71.63 million.

Winfred Elizalde, PPA manager of the Tacloban port, which covers the Southern Leyte ports, admitted that the "Sona ports" in the province are not attracting shipping vessels, making them non-functional.

"These ports are not earning. They are being subsidized by the PPA like repair and maintenance and security without giving us sufficient returns to recover the cost of construction," Elizalde said.

He particularly mentioned the San Ricardo port, which was envisioned to connect Lipata, Surigao del Norte to Eastern Visayas via Southern Leyte but still remains unused.

Engineer Marcelo Indic, PPA-Tacloban engineering division chief, said they are finding difficulty to "market" the San Ricardo port due to some reasons.

But Dominador Licayan, PPA manager whose area covers Ormoc City and Biliran province, said that not all of the Sona ports are idle, citing the case of the Naval port.

"The PPA is not really concern itself on profit but providing service to the public. These are missionary routes," Licayan said.

He also said that of the three "Sona ports" under his jurisdiction, the Naval port is now earning.

"Last year, it was able to earn P1.2 million. And for this year, we are projecting P1.6 million to P1.7 million," he said.

Licayan said that a roll-on, roll-off vessel and a shuttle ferry with a Cebu-Naval route are using the Naval port.

But the PPA-Ormoc manager admitted that the two other ports, the Maripipi and Kawayan, are not being used.

"These ports are being used by small and outriggers which the PPA does not charge. It is now the (responsibility) of the local government units concerned," Licayan said.

Maripipi Mayor Uldarico Macorol confirmed that their port is non-functional since its construction two years ago.

"It's really non-functional. There is no passenger vessel using it," Macorol said.

The PPA, however, clarified that despite the government not earning from those ports, their non-use should not be a cause for alarm. (Leyte Samar Daily Express)

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