MORE than five years since the Philippines secured funding for the proposed New Cebu International Container Port (NCICP) in Consolacion in northern Cebu, its construction has yet to start.
Now, the transportation agency is seeking approval to increase its project cost.
The Cebu Port Authority (CPA) disclosed to SunStar Cebu on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024, that based on the latest information it got from the Department of Transportation (DOTr), the agency is seeking the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Board’s approval to increase the project cost to P10.45 billion from the original P10.1 billion.
The DOTr expects Neda to approve its request in February, the CPA said. And once the project is awarded to a contractor, construction will start within the first quarter of this year.
“The PMU (project management unit) of NCICP is hoping that Neda will approve the requested increase in cost and extension of implementation of the project by the first quarter of the year,” said CPA, quoting the DOTr.
Last March, Neda 7 reportedly said the DOTr submitted a request to the Neda-Investment Coordination Committee to increase the project cost and to extend the loan validity and project implementation timeline.
The loan agreement between the Philippine Government and the Export-Import Bank of Korea (Kexim) expired last Aug. 21, based on earlier reports. The loan became effective on Sept. 21, 2018.
On Monday, SunStar Cebu tried to reach out to the DOTr through the CPA to ask if the loan validity has been extended, but the transportation agency has yet to issue a statement on the matter.
The NCICP project is one of the 194 priority projects of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration.
The project was reportedly delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and the lack of clearances.
According to the Department of Finance (DOF) website, the total estimated project cost is P10.1 billion (US$199.25 million).
Kexim-Korea Economic Development Cooperation Fund will extend the amount of US$172.641 million “with a preferential interest rate of 0.15 percent per annum for non-consulting services and zero percent for consulting services.”
The Philippines will provide a counterpart fund of US$26.09 million.
Two Korean construction firms participated in the technical bid for the project conducted in May 2022. In the second technical bid in June that same year, only one qualified for the post-qualification process after posting the lowest bid for the P9.962-billion project.
However, the contract was not awarded to any contractor.
The loan from Kexim was sealed when then President Rodrigo Duterte made an official trip to South Korea on June 4, 2018.
The NCICP will be built on a 25-hectare reclaimed land in Barangay Tayud, Consolacion. Once completed, it is seen to improve and decongest the flow of goods and services in the Visayas region.
According to the DOF website, the project will include a berthing facility with a 500-meter quay wall length “that can simultaneously accommodate two 2,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) vessels, operating facilities and structures for containers such as a freight station and inspection shed, an access road and a bridge and a dredged waterway and turning basin.”
The loan also covers the procurement of cargo handling equipment and consulting services.
Once the NCICP becomes functional, the current Cebu International Port at the Cebu Baseport will form part of the Port of Cebu domestic port to augment domestic port operations.