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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Leyte to Soon Begin Construction of Eastern Visayas Transshipment Hub

TACLOBAN CITY – Developing the Babatngon port into a regional transshipment hub will soon proceed with the favorable outcome of technical and economic studies, the Regional Development Council (RDC) reported on Wednesday.

Citing the results of a feasibility study, the RDC said the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) will finally begin constructing the PHP934.206 million port in Babatngon, Leyte, a town next to this city.

In a statement, the RDC said the project was found to be technically feasible and economically viable based on the feasibility study conducted by the Gammacon Builders, Inc., as presented by the PPA to the region’s highest policy-making body.

Study results showed that the proposed port has an economic internal rate of return of 60.52 percent, surpassing the 10 percent threshold prescribed by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“It also revealed that among three options, there were limitations observed in the Tacloban port site and the existing Babatngon port in the town center. The study recommended the construction of the New Babatngon Port in a new location since it is located in Carigara Bay,” the RDC said.

The proposed port in Bacong village and District 1 of Babatngon has a wide available backup area for the development of the seaport. It has a deep harbor and no marine sanctuary area nearby. There are also no informal settlers in the area.

The site is directly adjacent to the existing national road, which is proposed for development into a six-lane national road, according to RDC.

“This new development in the sea transport sector of the region will ensure that inter-island shipping remains a viable option for transporting people and cargo, thereby contributing to the attainment of an expanded and upgraded infrastructure as espoused in the Eastern Visayas Regional Development Plan 2023-2028,” the council added.

Once completed, vessel operation costs will be reduced because vessel calls from the existing constrained Tacloban Port will be diverted to the new Babatngon Port, which has a shorter travel distance from points of origin.

Passengers on board originating from Cebu en route to Samar will also save on transport costs. The Cebu-Babatngon-Samar route is also found to be more economical compared to the present Cebu-Ormoc-Samar route.

The Babatngon Port has long been eyed as the Eastern Visayas Regional Transshipment Hub, but it was only in 2023 that the said port earned the nod for the conduct of a feasibility study and the formulation of master plans.

The study evaluated the technical viability of proposed short-term developments and determined the long- and short-term direction of the development of the ports.

Endorsed by the RDC in 2017, the study started in July 2023 and was completed in May 2024.

The contract to build the port was already awarded to Ormoc-based MAC Builders Corporation last May 29.

The RDC, through the Regional Project Monitoring Committee, vowed to regularly monitor the progress of the project to ensure its timely completion.

The Eastern Visayas Regional Development Council (RDC) has endorsed the feasibility study and formulation of the master plan in 2017.

The Babatngon Port is a complementary project to the proposed second San Juanico Bridge that would link Babatngon town to Sta. Rita, Samar.

Babatngon town is located in the northern part of Leyte and is just 22 kilometers north of this city.

For decades, the town’s port has been eyed by experts as a regional hub, considering the difficulty of big ships reaching the regional capital.

Large Tacloban-bound vessels must traverse the narrow San Juanico Strait separating Samar and Leyte Islands to reach Tacloban. (PNA)

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