By Rjay Zuriaga Castor
Local executives and the business community in Iloilo are urging the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to expedite the proposed development of the Iloilo Commercial Port Complex (ICPC) Brgy. Loboc in Lapuz district, Iloilo City.
The Iloilo City Local Development Council Committee recently passed a resolution urging DOTr to expedite the privatization, repair and improvement of the ICPC.
“The privatization of the (ICPC) through a public-private partnership (PPP) is deemed as the most expeditious and efficient course of action to expand, improve and develop the said seaport,” the resolution reads.
It can be recalled that in a 2021 resolution, the council endorsed the unsolicited proposal of the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) to the National Economic Development Authority for the development, operation and maintenance of the ICPC.
ICTSI had initially estimated an investment of over P5 billion to fully develop the Iloilo Port complex. It had also proposed to develop the Port of Dumangas in the same province.
Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas in a letter dated September 5, requested Philippines Ports Authority Region 6 (PPA6) General Manager Jay to prioritize funding for the development of the Iloilo Port complex
“We have a number of international vessels arriving in our international port already –that means we do away with the port of Manila and Cebu because they can go straight here in our port. This will also be a big savings for our businessmen,” he said.
Treñas also chairs the Infrastructure Development Committee of the Regional Development Council 6 (RDC-6).
The city mayor stressed that there is a need for the improvement of its facilities to accommodate an increased number of container ships and international sea vessels.
In July this year, ICPC welcomed the berthing of the cargo vessel from the Regional Container Lines — the first international container carrier in its waters.
BACKING FROM BIZ COMMUNITY
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry – Iloilo Chapter (PCCI-Iloilo) also stressed the “dire need to expand and improve” the primary international and domestic gateways to the Western Visayas region.
“(ICPC) caters to tourists and business transactions that fuel economic growth of our beloved Iloilo Province and City,” it added.
PCCI-Iloilo furthered that the urgent attention for its expansion will catalyze increased investments, business growth, employment and tourism for lloilo and its neighboring provinces.
Meanwhile, the Iloilo Economic Development Foundation Incorporated (ILED), is particularly concerned about the port’s depth which limits its ability to accommodate larger vessels vital for international trade.
ILED, chaired by Engr. Terence Uygongco, added that this limitation hinders Iloilo’s potential for economic growth and curtails the region’s ability to engage in global commerce effectively.
“Recognizing the urgency of these challenges, the foundation underscores the critical importance of embracing a PPP approach,” it said.
ILED believes that aside from expediting the modernization process, the PPP will also ensure the incorporation of cutting-edge technologies, operational expertise, and innovative solutions.
The FCCII, which is also headed by Uygongco, also expressed its concerns on the current state of the ICPC and called for urgent action to upgrade the facility.
“The FCCII believes that a PPP is the best way to ensure that the ICPC is upgraded and modernized in a timely and efficient manner. The group also called on the PPA and the DOTr to work together to swiftly resolve the proposed PPP for the ICPC,” it added.
ILOILO PORT DEV’T PLAN
The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) Commercial Services Department manager Mark Jon Palomar previously expressed that the agency is keen on bidding out the port management contract for ICPC this year.
PPA rolled out on June 21 its first public consultation and proposed development plan for ICPC and a second public consultation was later scheduled on July 26.
The second consultation gathered feedback to be used in making “a bit of revisions” to the components of the terms of reference for the terminal management contract.
The proposed development plan and privatization of the terminal leasing of the ICPC is offered at P5.87-billion, which allocates P4.61 billion in capital outlay projects and P1.26 billion for major equipment expenses.
The winning bidder or operator will carry out the operations, management, landside, and waterside improvement and expansion, among others.
Aside from the operations and maintenance, PPA also plans to convert ICPC into an exclusively international port and decongest the main gateway in Manila.
The modernization plan of ICPC involves expanding its berthing facilities over an extensive 8,888 square meters.
This also includes the installation of a cutting-edge Ship-to-Shore rail system and state-of-the-art electrical infrastructure, all designed to enhance a 488 linear meter wharf.