SUBIC BAY FREEPORT: The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) bared P2.46-billion fund to prioritize the rehabilitation of piers and wharves in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone to bring to tip-top form the so-called heart and soul of this premier maritime logistics center.
Newly-appointed SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma Eisma said the agency need to put its assets in top condition to service more vessels and get more returns of investments.
“The piers and wharves are undeniably the biggest assets of Subic Bay, and our sea port generates the biggest income among all the SBMA units,” Eisma said.
The Subic Bay Freeport has a total of 15 piers and wharves that can serve various purposes from transshipment of containerized and break-bulk cargoes, fuels and lubricants, grains and fertilizer, as well as servicing vessels and passengers.
It also offers key services like cargo handling, pilot and tugboat services, ship chandling, bunkering and tendering, ship agents, onboard repair, cargo survey, underwater survey, and vessel lay-up and line handling.
Eisma said that while Subic has its own airport, its seaport is the most viable facility to develop and earn from.
“With the money the government is pouring into Clark today, Subic cannot hope to compete with its airport, so we have to prioritize development of our seaport,” she explained.
She pointed out that the Alava Pier which services military and passenger vessels in Subic needs to be dredged and its piles strengthened in order to accommodate bigger cruise ships.
“We have concluded talks with some cruise liners and the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. will dock in Subic starting next May, but we can’t bring in those with passenger capacity of up to 5,000 because our piers are not yet upgraded,” Eisma said.
She added that it was while attending the 2017 Asia Cruise Forum in Jeju, South Korea last August that she realized it was necessary to rehabilitate Alava Pier to bring it at par with global cruise standards.
Other than the repair of piers and wharves, the SBMA also plans to undertake major projects like the construction of the Magsaysay Bridge which leads to the Freeport main gate; upgrading of facilities at the Subic Bay International Airport; concreting and repair of roads; port dredging; and building of the proposed SBMA-Olongapo Museum.
The Subic agency is also planning to build an SBMA Corporate Center to house its various offices that are scattered among several US Navy-era buildings.
According to the proposed SBMA budget for 2018 passed by the Senate’s subcommittee on finance, other than the SBMA Corporate Center of P3.2-billion, the repair of Subic piers and wharves will take up the bulk of the SBMA’s P3.548-billion infrastructure budget for 2018.
The repair of piers and wharves is estimated to cost P2.46-billion, while the other projects are pegged at P489.3-million for road concreting and repair; P390.7-million for the Magsaysay bridge; P83.38-million for port dredging; P80-million for the museum and P45.4-million for upgrading of airport facilities.