P2B budget for Gensan airport, seaport rehab sought

Edwin G. Espejo
P2B budget for Gensan airport, seaport rehab sought
The rehabilitation of vital infrastructure in the city is part of preparations for the upcoming ASEAN integration

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has sought a P2.2-billion budget for the rehabilitation and expansion of the Makar Wharf, and construction of a new airport terminal building here.

This was announced by Raymond Salangsang, vice president of the General Santos City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in a press conference days ahead of the 23rd Annual Mindanao Business Conference.

The conference opens on Monday, September 1.

The Makar Wharf rehabilitation and expansion will cost P1.3 billion, Salangsang said, while DOTC also submitted a P900-million budget for the proposed new airport terminal building in General Santos.

The move is seen as immediate response of the Philippine government to the planned integration of the Philippines into the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.

Salangsang said General Santos is an excellent transshipment point of exports from China to the rest of the ASEAN region.

Makar Wharf development

General Santos Mayor Ronnel Rivera said they have been pushing for the rehabilitation of Makar Wharf, one of Mindanao’s biggest port complexes.

“This is the result of the Makar Port Development Summit we held in July,” the city mayor revealed.

The proposed project will include additional berthing areas, reinforcement of the wharf columns and repairs of container yard rails.

Salangsang also announced that DOTC has committed to upgrade the port’s plug-in facilities for refrigerated (refer) vans.

At present, the city mayor said the port has 204 plug-ins, but 34 of them are still powered by 220 volts.

“The international standard for refer van is 440 volts,” the city mayor explained.

In addition, Salangsang said 144 new refer van plug-ins would be installed next year.

“This is in anticipation to the increase volume of export shipments of bananas from the region when harvests begin next year,” he explained.

He said Del Monte and Lapanday have been aggressively expanding their banana plantations in Maguindanao, Sarangani and South Cotabato.

New airport terminal

In the same forum, Salangsang said construction of the new airport terminal building could begin late next year or early 2016.

He said the new terminal building, which would have at least 4 air bridges, could open in 2019.

The General Santos City airport began commercial operations in 1996.  

When it opened, the airport was the biggest airport facility in Mindanao, sitting on a 600-hectare property.

It was built largely on grants from the United States through the United States Agency for International Development.

Since then, however, its terminal building has undergone little changes with some portions already needing major repairs.

Boxed fresh chilled tuna are ready for loading at the General Santos City airport cargo building

Mayor Rivera said the city would have to improve its infrastructure if it were to become Mindanao’s agro-industrial center.

During the height of international fresh tuna trading, Philippine Airlines was flying out 10 tons of chilled tuna from the city.

When it opened, there was only one daily flight servicing General Santos-Manila route.

Today, as many as 8 daily flights are mounted to Manila, Cebu and Iloilo.

In addition to PAL, Cebu Pacific is now servicing General Santos.

A third airline, Air Asia, will also soon begin flying the Manila-General Santos route. – Rappler.com

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