The year 2015 saw it difficult for the P19-billion Davao Sasa Port Modernization Project to dodge controversies, with Davao-based port operators against the bidding process.
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Philippine Port Authority (PPA) announced last week that they had again extended the deadline for the submission of bid proposals, to Feb. 26 from Jan. 11 of next year.
The extension, the DOTC and the PPA said, would allow pre-qualified bidders “more time to conduct technical, financial and legal due diligence.”
There are currently five groups qualified to submit offers for the project, which is facing opposition from Davao-based port operators since its development would affect their individual businesses.
The prequalified groups are the San Miguel Holdings Corp.-APM Terminals Management (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. consortium, port tycoon Enrique Razon Jr.’s International Container Terminal Services Inc., the Asian Terminals Inc,-DP World FZE consortium, the Portek International Pte. Ltd.-National Marine Corp. consortium and Bollore Africa Logistics.
The DOTC and the PPA in April announced the opening of the pre-qualification to bid on its first public-private partnership (PPP) seaport project.
The winning bidder will finance, design, redevelop, operate and maintain the project, which involves the construction of a new apron and linear quay, expansion of the back-up area, container yards and warehouses, and installation of ship-to-shore cranes and rubber-tired gantry.
In addition, the winning bidder will also handle the operations and maintenance (O&M) of the port under a 30- year concession period.
When the Davao Sasa Port Modernization Project is completed in 2018, the DOTC said it would cut down cargo unloading from three days to three hours and help improve port capacity.
In another development, the PPA and the Port of San Francisco in March this year moved to further strengthen a port agreement.
Delegates from the Port of San Francisco inspected Manila ports to observe how port operations are conducted in the Philippines. The visit was the first under the agreement, which was entered into by both parties last year.
Under the partnership, both parties will share general information, policies and best practices. It is also expected to encourage more trade and business opportunities between the two ports.
The PPA said that it is planning to offer the same agreement to other ports to increase the competitiveness of local ports.
In April, meanwhile, the World Maritime University (WMU), announced that it was eyeing the Philippines as a potential partner to promote graduate studies in Master of Science in Maritime Affairs.
In terms of port congestion, the DOTC and the PPA expressed confidence that ports are ready to accept increased cargo volumes. They said major gateways were capable of handling bigger ships, while secondary gateways are being improved.
The PPA said the two Manila ports—the Manila South Harbor and the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT)—are operating better following last year’s port congestion issue.
Currently, yard utilization at both ports is at 55 to 59 percent, or about 44,000 to 48,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs).
There has also been faster turnaround time for both cargo and vessels at the ports, the PPA said.
In December, meanwhile, PPA General Manager Juan Sta. Ana announced his resignation after over five years in office, saying that he has decided to return to the private sector.