ROUGH CUTS|The P39-B Mega Harbour deal is off

SEVERAL columns back we raised the question what has happened to the P39 billion Sta. Ana Port and Coastal Development Project proposed by Mega Harbour Development Corp. The huge infrastructure project of the city government is to be fully undertaken by the proponent with no cost on the part of the local government . It calls for the reclamation of the sea shores fronting the Agdao area, then to Sta. Ana, Piapi, Bucana up to Times Beach. Four islands are supposed to be created out of the reclaimed debris where a modern sea port, an industrial and commercial area, and a housing enclave for shoreline residents who are to be affected by the project.

Of course like many Davaoenos, we too, are aware that the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between the City and the proponent Mega Harbour was already signed by then mayor now President Rodrigo Duterte and the authorized company executive. That goes without saying that everything was in order insofar as the requirements of the project were concerned during that time. The MOA is the document that is to govern the project implementation.

Actually, we were prodded to raise the question because it’s been a year since the document was signed by the former mayor on authority by the City Council, and months after incumbent city mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio had the project reviewed by a special committee. Yet in the interregnum there was nothing mentioned about the project either by the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) or the Regional Development Council.

And last Tuesday, the announcement by no less than the city mayor that the city was scrapping the multi-billion peso project came like a bolt of lightning. After all the media hype, the idea that the earlier rejection of the government-initiated Sasa Port Modernization Project will not matter at all because the Mega Harbour-offered project will take care of the port and wharfage requirement of the city.

Well, while we are not really fully favorable to the Sta. Ana Port and Coastal Development Project because of its impact to the city’s already very congested traffic situation, we are not also totally happy over its cancellation.

The issue of sustainability, and the project’s negative impact to the environment are not without prior solutions.We assume that the design is laced with mitigating measures that would prevent major destruction to both the underwater and the above-ground areas covered by the project. Its location being right in the waterfront of the city proper will attract locators with businesses that can last forever. Knowing its proximity to the consumers of the products that may be produced inside the industrial area of the project, it is easy to assume that patronage will be strong.

But perhaps that is how the members of the Review Committee look at it. So the opinion of the “experts” could have seemingly rub in on the city chief executive and finally influenced her to do away with a major legacy of her father. Never mind the possible legal complications and financial liabilities brought about by the cancellation of the MOA.

Given the mayor’s devotion to service and her love for her constituents, there is no reason to suspect any ill-motive of her decision to thumb down what her father earlier thumbed up.

What saddens us however, is the absence of alternative infrastructure project intended for the same purpose that need not incurse into the underwater of the city’s shoreline. May be Mayor Sara can put back on the table the P19 billion Sasa Port Modernization Project which, ironically, her father was also the one who relegated it to the back burner shortly before his run for the Presidency which he won handily.

Or, perhaps Inday Sara can strongly push for a new diversion highway that will cut across the city’s inland areas. We are certain this new diversion road will not only ease the burgeoning traffic congestion but will also open up new residential, commercial and industrial development enclaves.

Other than these, it will also give additional revenues to the city because once the outer rims are opened up the land values will also increase. Subsequently higher real property taxes will be collected. And with the new road will follow commercial or industrial locators. So, next will come new jobs and employment.

But then again, other than the reported JICA study on a possible new diversion highway, no other talks on the matter has surfaced so far.

May be the mayor’s think-tank can consider that idea. What about it gentlemen and ladies of the mayor?

Posted in Opinion