Firms must be informed on protest vs Sasa port project, says ex-dad

PROSPECTIVE bidders of the Sasa port modernization projects, five of them passed the pre-qualification process, need to know about the continuing objections coming from several groups, said one of the oppositors to the project.

“It is important that these companies, with the exception of the ICTSI (International Container Terminal Services Inc.) which has affiliate here in Davao, should be informed and be made aware of the massive objection and opposition of the Davao Region to this particular project,” said former Councilor Peter T. Lavina.

Other companies that have bought bid documents are the consortium of San Miguel Corp. and Netherlands APM Terminals, Ballore of France, Portek of Singapore and the Asian Terminals/Dubai Ports.

He said those expressing opposition to the P18.99 billion project “are not against development” of the port. “But, again, we wish to be clear that as the only government-owned or public port, Sasa Port should continue to play” its roles that inlcude handling of both domestic and international container terminals, handling of internatinal and domestic bulk and break-bulk and general cargo not in container vans; and handling of passengers, particularly for cruise tourism;

He said the Department of Transportation and Communication and its consultants “want to convert the Sasa Port into purely container terminal” by implementing the project, which is placed under the public-private partnership scheme. “What happens now to bulk and break-bulk cargo and cruise tourism, which are likewise essential to the Davao Region’s agriculture and tourism industries?” he quipped.

He said that while the transportation agency is projectiong huge volume of cargoes, particularly the bananas for export, it failed to consider that most exporters decided to use the other huge port, the Davao International Container Terminal in Panabo City and the private ports in the city.

He added that the winning bidder might believe the government projects but it “would not be able to recover its huge investment with the reduced volume of cargo, unless it jack up its cargo handling and other port service fees so high as to make the investment viable.”

“This increased cost in turn would be passed on to the consumers, and to taxpayers if the venture loses,” he added, reiterating the call of those opposing the project to stop the bidding process and start more consultations so that issues like traffic congestion, relocation issues and others will be discussed.

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