THE P39-billion Davao Coastline and Port Development Project, once realized, can serve as the platform for the city's rise as a regional economic capital of global proportions.

Chairman Reghis M. Romero II, of port developer and operator Mega Harbour Port and Development Inc., said they are committed to build a modern, integrated, self-contained and environment-friendly and comprehensively master planned mixed-use central business district with a port city bringing a world-class facilities that will take Mindanao's agri-business performance to new heights, helping expand its tourism and investment absorptive capacity and grade capabilities to a level never experienced before.

"It is practically impossible for us (Mega Harbour) to miss the strategic role of Mindanao in the global economic scheme. Mindanao is the Philippines' nearest mainland to Asean's archipelagic sub-region comprising Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia," he said.

He added that the project is bound to become Davao's premier international gateway and Show window to the world.

Project updates

Victor S. Songco, president of the project developer, told reporters in a press conference at the sidelines of the Davao Agri-Trade Expo (Date) 2016 at the SMX Convention Center, Lanang, on Friday, that they eye to start the development works middle of next year.

"Hopefully, the Notice to Proceed (NTP) will be issued by the Philippine Reclamation Authority by mid next year, maybe June, so we can start the construction already," he said, adding that the developer is committed to finish all technical, environmental and social requirements needed.

At present, the developer is complying necessary permits before the national government agencies including PRA and National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

Under the Executive Order 146, the National Economic and Development Authority Board is mandated to approve reclamation projects.

The PRA, for its part, will process, evaluate and recommend the approval of the proposals to the board.

Last June, the City Government of Davao represented by then mayor, now President Rodrigo Duterte, and the Mega Harbour group inked a joint venture agreement for the 200-hectare project that will run from Times Beach to Agdao, Davao City.

Also, the project developer is on full swing feasibility study. The proponents intend to finish every needed study by December of this year.

Some of the studies the company is doing are census tagging, hydrologic coastal engineering, market study, traffic study and socio-economic study, among others.

Spanning 200 hectares from the coast of the Davao Gulf and stretching some six to seven kilometers comprised of four islands, this solid support infrastructure for Brunei-Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines East Asian Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga) and Asean economic integration will have a port facility, industrial park, a commercial and financial center, a BPO complex and a tourism hub.

Songco said all the four islands are targeted to be completed within three years.

"We already have some interested and potential locators of the project but we have yet to disclose their identities," Songco said.

But he clarified that they are the one operating the port facility.

Affected communities

Arch. Manuel Noche, master planner of the reclamation project, said they have been doing series of consultations with the barangays to hear their sentiments and explain the project and its impacts.

"Two days ago, we had dialogue with them and it's ongoing, and we noted that they have fear of the unknown but once it will be cleared, then there is no problem," Noche said.

In fact, the company said that the project will benefit some 3,500 families in the coastal communities.

"Displacement, off-site relocation is the community's major concern," Noche added.

With this, he cleared that with the project no displacement will happen.

But Songcon said those affected with the slum upgrade, the developer will construct a medium rise buildings within the area.

They also clarified that there are two projects two happen in the area, the coastline and port development and the Department of Public Ways and Highways (DPWH) long-stalled Coastal Road project.

Noche said that maybe with the DPWH's project Road Right of Ways, issues will occur.

"We are working closely with the DPWH-11 (Davao) because our project will be a parallel development with them," Noche said.