SANTA ANA, Cagayan: A P4.2-billion worth Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) breakwater project in its objective to make Port Irene as the premier international gateway of Northern Philippines is to be completed in 2014.
Officials said the breakwater project at Port Irene in Casam-balangan Bay was included in the 2005-2010 Medium Term Development Plan since the facilities needed were “inadequate” and “deteriorating.”
Nilo Aldeguer, CEZA senior deputy administrator, said “the needed facilities to spur economic activities in the Port were inadequate” and that not even the minimum requirements of port users and related industries such as basic lighting during operations could be met.
”Moreover, engineering investigations conducted on the existing port structures revealed that the facility was already structurally unsafe and highly vulnerable to catastrophe,” Aldeguer said.
Such shortcomings, he said, were unacceptable for the operations of international shipments and that instances of strong movement caused by the rough sea during vessel operations at the pier have been reported.
”Our findings show that this was due to the pier’s wear and tear through the years considering that since its construction in the 1970s, it has not undergone major rehabilitation except for the yearly maintenance work activities,” Aldeguer said.
Under the 25-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) agreement with Asia Pacific International Terminal Inc. to rehabilitate and develop Port Irene, CEZA’s counterpart is the development of the 1,000-meter breakwater project.
Aldeguer said the need to establish the breakwater was also due to the wind and wave direction along the port premises; it is “to properly protect the port and its harbor from the effects of destructive waves.”
”So that when oncoming waves hit these breakwaters, their erosive power is concentrated on the structure some distance away from the coast or pier and dissipate the wave energy,” he said.
Joyce Marie Jayme, CEZA public relations chief, said that of the 1,000-meter breakwater project, 700 meters have been structured in 2011, while 150 meters is in the process of completion.
Jayme said the remaining 150 meters will be completed in 2014 with more innovative port upgrades such as the “dredging of the navigational channel” once the breakwater project is completed.
Big deal for contractors
The CEZA Breakwater Project involved pre-casting, pile-driving and construction of the breakwater.
Of the more than P4.2-billion construction budget, Santa Elena Construction and Development Corp. got the bulk of the project.
Santa Elena did Phase 1 with P840 million; Phase 2 with P1.3-billion budget was contracted by Santa Elena and J. Vitangcol Construction Co. as a joint venture completed in April 2010; Phase 3 which costs P1.06 billion was completed by Santa Elena in May 2011; Phase 4 A with P900-million budget, is a joint venture by Santa Elena and Foundation International Construction Corp. to be completed in 2014.
However, Jayme said that for Phase 4 A, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has only released P722.9 million in September.
Not that the implementation of the Phase 4 A which started in October 2012 is not in question. There were reports that the bidding was “rigged” and did not pass through regular procedure and that there were “cost variance.”
However, in a statement released to The Manila Times, CEZA denied having rigged and not followed regular procedures claiming that it has undergone the proper procurement process.
In accordance with Republic Act (RA) 9184, the statement said the project has undergone a “competitive bidding process” which was published in general nationwide circulation on August 7, 2012 in the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System or PhilGEPS and in the CEZA website on August 8, 2012.
The statement also said that a Notice of Award was issued to the winning bidder on September 17, 2012 and a Notice to Proceed was then issued on September 24, 2012.
In the payment process, the statement added that the DBM has also issued Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) to cover the release to CEZA specifically for the funding requirement of the 150-meter breakwater project of Phase IV A.
In all phases of the project, reports also said the project still proceeded despite findings of cost variance between the approved budget for the contract (ABC) and the contractor’s bid proposal (CBP).
An instance is that of Phase 4 A with its approved budget of P903 million is 4.35 percent above the Commission on Audit (COA) estimated cost of P865.8 million while the CBP of P900 million was 3.96 percent above the COA estimated cost.
However, Sixto Guiang Jr., COA senior technical audit specialist, in a recommendation said that the ABC and the CBP “maybe considered reasonable being within the allowable limit of variance” based on COA Resolution 91-52.
One-stop international shipping site
”Our goal is that by 2014, the 24-hectare Port Irene development is in place, a one-stop site for international shipping lanes, open to major sea routes to facilitate the flow of goods and services and as an entrance of potential business investors,” said CEZA administrator Jose Mari Ponce.
He said CEZA is in fact the country’s fastest-growing industrial, logistics and tourism hub that could give China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore a run for their money.
A government corporate body, the CEZA was created under RA 7922 or Cagayan Special Economic Zone Act of 1995 by then President Fidel Ramos to manage and supervise the development of the 54,118 hectares Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZFP).
The CSEZFP covers the entire Municipality of Santa Ana, including the Islands of Fuga, Barit, Mabbag in Aparri town.