Seaports, airports, highways were drivers of growth — DOTC execs say

June 23, 2010 10:21 pm 

MANILA, June 23 — The Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH) and airport projects under the “super regions” strategy of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo have been cited by officials as major contributory factors to the development of the country’s transport and tourism industries and inter-regional trade.

At the last Malacanang news briefing of Executive Secretary and former Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Leandro Mendoza, he reported that the 919 kilometers of nautical highway established in the western, central and eastern seaboard since 2001 have impacted positively to the country in terms of movements of people, tourists and commodities.

SRNH was opened to the public in 2003, connecting the provinces and cities of Oriental Mindoro, Tagaytay City (Cavite), Marinduque, Romblon, and Batangas City in Luzon; Aklan, Antique, Iloilo, Capiz, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, Bohol, Cebu, Guimaras, and Siquijor, in the Visayas; and Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, Lanao del Norte, and Dapitan City in Mindanao

Mendoza’s successor at DOTC, Secretary Anneli Lontok, added during the briefing that the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has invested at least P16 billion to complete port projects nationwide, which are presently being serviced in 12 routes by 25 roll-on roll-off (RORO) ferry operators.

With the completion of these port projects, Lontok said passenger traffic reached three million passengers while cargo traffic increased by 65 percent in the western nautical highway alone.

Lontok said the port and road network projects in the nautical highway spread economic growth and increased regional trade among the islands, boosted tourism, increased agricultural productivity, and enhanced logistics operations and strategies of the business sector.

“The nautical highways has impacted positively on the socio-economic development of the country and has achieved its objectives of reducing transport cost by 10 to 60 percent while offering several options for our farmers and agri-businessmen,” Lontok said.

With the government investment in ports and maritime safety, Lontok said the World Bank study showed the country’s logistics performance index increased from 2.69 in 2007 to 3.3 in early 2010.

Another major accomplishment of the Arroyo administration, Lontok said, was boosting the tourism industry through the upgrading and establishment of new tourism airports.

Lontok said these include the completion of the Davao International Airport, Bacolod-Silay International Airport and Iloilo International Airport; and the upgrading of other airports in tourism areas such as the Kalibo airport in Aklan; and Puerto Princesa City Airport and Busuanga Airport both in Palawan.

Lontok reported that yearly average growth rate in domestic air passenger traffic was recorded at 9.8 percent while international arrivals stood at 7.7 percent.

“Overall, domestic traffic almost doubled while international passenger traffic grew by 65 percent since 2001,” Lontok said.

Aside from growth in investments, Lontok said dramatic increase in passenger traffic were recorded in Busuanga, 500 percent; Ozamis City, 4,000 percent; Butuan, 300 percent; and Kalibo 400 percent.

To date, Lontok said the Philippines has also signed several air services agreement with other countries, contributing to the increase in international traffic.

Lontok said the country has signed the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) memorandum of understanding on air linkages, and the ASEAN multilateral agreement on air services and full liberalization of air freight services.

Lontok added major road networks completed include the closing of the loop from LRT-1 to MRT-3, which made travel around Metro Manila much easier.

Lontok said the Northrail linkage project which became operational last week will open rail network all the way to Bicol with the inauguration of the 50-meter San Cristobal bridge which was destroyed by Typhoons “Milenyo” and “Reming” in 2006.

“On June 25, we will have the first rail travel from Manila to Bicol,” Lontok announced.

Lontok said enhanced connectivity between growth centers came with the establishment of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX); completion of the Alabang-Calamba Road; the finishing touches on the Calamba-Sto. Tomas, Batangas expressway route which will connect to the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR) Tollway leading to the Batangas International Port.

Other important ongoing projects, Lontok said, are the South Metro Manila Skyway Stage 2 and the Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway. (PNA) LOR/OPS/ssc

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