‘Port contract to push Iloilo in global trade’

(Photo from PPA)

By Francis Allan Angelo

One of the biggest business organizations in Iloilo lauded the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) for awarding International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) the 25-year cargo-handling contract for the Iloilo Commercial Port Complex (ICPC).

The Iloilo Economic Development Foundation Inc (ILEDF) said PPA’s decision “marks a significant milestone in the development of our region’s critical infrastructure.”

“We are optimistic that ICTSI’s extensive experience and global reputation will contribute to the port’s transformation into a world-class facility.  The ILEDF believes that this strategic partnership will not only enhance the efficiency of cargo handling but also position Iloilo as a key player in the global trade network,” according to a statement signed by ILEDF chairman Engr. Terence Uygongco.

The organization also vowed to support the partnership to ensure the successful collaboration between the PPA and ICTSI.

“We look forward to witnessing the positive impact of this partnership on the economic landscape of Iloilo and its neighboring areas,” it added.

ILEDF is an umbrella organization of business and political leaders and institutions that aims to develop and promote Iloilo as an investment hub.

ICTSI will begin its operations of the facility upon contract signing and PPA’s issuance of the Notice to Proceed.

ICTSI’s offer for the 25-year contract involves a concession fee of P750 million for the sixth to 10th year. It is larger than the minimum fixed concession fee of P500 million stated in the contract.

ICTSI executive vice president Christian Gonzalez emphasized that ICTSI’s proposal outlines significant investments in infrastructure upgrades, cargo-handling equipment, and operational efficiency measures to transform the Iloilo Port into a premier gateway.

ICTSI currently features a 627-meter operational quay length and 20 hectares of land for container and general cargo storage, warehousing, and other cargo-handling activities.

“I am confident that this strategic move by the PPA, in collaboration with ICTSI, will lead to a revitalized and efficient port complex in Iloilo,” he added.

As the new port handler, the ICTSI will rename the Iloilo Port the Visayas Container Terminal (VCT).

The enhancements to the infrastructure of the soon-to-be VCT are expected to facilitate an increase in international container ship arrivals and streamline the flow of goods in and out of the port.

PPA data showed that cargo throughput in the Visayas reached 38.1 million metric tons from January to September last year, representing approximately 19 percent of the total cargo volume across the country during that period.

With its redevelopment and expansion, the PPA aims to convert ICPC into an exclusive port for international vessels and cargoes to decongest the main gateway in Manila.

Domestic vessels and cargoes will only be allowed in the initial five years of the contract or until completion of the port development project at Fort San Pedro port in the Iloilo City proper.

The ICTSI is the sole bidder for the 25-year contract to manage and operate the cargo-handling and related services of the Iloilo Port, according to the PPA.

The Razon-owned company won the contract after it was rebidded on January 11 this year.

In the first bidding on December 18, 2023, the ICTSI’s sole bid was declared failed due to the absence of a notarized Secretary’s Certificate or any legal document confirming ICTSI’s authorization in its Omnibus Sworn Statement. (With a report from Rjay Zuriaga Castor)