Modernize Mindanao Ports: It’s Long Overdue

ONLY with the modernization of its major ports can the island of Mindanao open itself up for more business opportunities on the local and international markets.

Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel asserted this in support of local businessmen’s call to modernize Mindanao’s ports and make it at par with international standards.

Pimentel said modernizing the local ports in Mindanao, using a global benchmark, will encourage healthy competition in the domestic shipping industry.

“We should fully implement the law that allows foreign ships’ co-loading for domestic transshipment to encourage healthy competition. But our ports have to be upgraded to meet the berthing and mooring needs of foreign ships,” he said.

Pimentel made the statement after a meeting with businessmen in Davao City, who recently issued a call for the Duterte administration to rehabilitate, expand and upgrade the local ports in the island.

 

Long Overdue

Upgrading Mindanao’s major ports such as Davao and Cagayan de Oro are long overdue, experts and local businessmen have pointed out in the past.

The lack of adequate facilities in Mindanao’s ports had hampered the island’s potential to be a major trading port not only in the Philippines but also in the ASEAN region, former NEDA director general Emmanuel Esguerra said in a shipping conference in Davao last year. 

Major problems include inadequacy of, or absence of, berthing structures, transit or cargo shed areas for non-containerized cargo, container yards for containerized cargo, and passenger terminal buildings.

 

Lower Cargo Rates

Pimentel also observed that foreign ships “could only dock in international ports because of berthing depth requirements and inadequate mooring facilities that domestic ports could not provide.”

“There is also a need to reduce domestic cargo rates as rates in Mindanao are more expensive than foreign cargo rates,” he said.

Such measures are vital, according to businessmen, given that many of Mindanao’s ports experienced a surge in cargo volume in the last months.

Data from the Philippine Ports Authority showed that ports in Northern Mindanao — Iligan, Ozamis, Cagayan de Oro, Butuan and Surigao—handled 182,433 metric tons (MT) in the first half of 2017, up 5.33 percent from 173,191 MT in the same period last year. (OpinYon)

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