DOTC: Tacloban Airport improvements nearly done; full completion in January

November 8, 2014 4:44 am 

By Azer N. Parrocha

MANILA, Nov 7 (PNA) — Filipinos traveling to and from Tacloban City will have something to look forward to January next year when renovations at the city's main airport — —the Daniel Z. Romualdez (DZR) Airport — is completed.

The Tacloban Airport, among three other airports in the Visayas Region, was among the airports heavily damaged by super typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) November 8 last year. However, much has been done since then.

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said that improvements for the damaged Tacloban Airport cost about Php 43.65 million.

Today, the airport is no longer battered, its roof no longer warped. Instead, its passenger terminal building (PTB) has been refurbished with new floors and ceilings, walls, windows and doors and other furniture.

The airport’s Administration and Project Management Office (PMO) buildings have also been rehabilitated, new safety and security equipment such as four x-ray machines and four walk-through metal detectors have been installed, and its fire station and perimeter fence reconstruction is ongoing.

Transport Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya earlier admitted that much still had to be done, such as the completion of asphalt overlaying in the airport’s runway.

Currently, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said that operations at the airport are limited to small aircraft. However, the agency is expediting improvements to accommodate large aircraft by next year.

Department spokesperson Miguel Arthur Sagcal said that although recovery efforts have taken some time, he assured that the agency continues to boost efforts to restore normalcy in affected airports.

President Benigno S. Aquino III said in a previous interview that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is already studying proposals to transfer the airport in Palo or Santa Fe to protect the airport from storm surges.

While the Tacloban Airport has yet to be fully rehabilitated, the DOTC said that the Kalibo International Airport, Roxas Airport, and the Busuanga Airport, have been fully rehabilitated since April, June, and last month, respectively.

The Kalibo and Busuanga airports cater to tourists visiting the country’s renowned beaches, while the Roxas airport serves over 200,000 passengers per year as a main gateway to the whole island of Panay.

CAAP said that ongoing rehabilitation works also continue at the Ormoc airport also in Leyte and Guiuan Airport in Eastern Samar.

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), meanwhile, said that improvements such as the construction of access roads and storage facilities, and the rehabilitation of causeways and seawalls have also been done amounting to Php 41.2 million.

Fully-rehabilitated ports include the Port of Naval in Biliran; the ports of Danao, San Carlos, and Pulupandan in Negros Occidental; the ports of Coron, Culion, Cuyo, and El Nido in Palawan; Matnog port in Sorsogon; ports of Legazpi, Tabaco, and Pasacao in Albay; port of Maasin in Southern Leyte; and the Sta. Fe Port in Bantayan, Cebu.

Forty-four more port rehabilitation projects are either ongoing or in the pipeline including the Poro Port. Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard has 14 projects lined up, the Cebu Port Authority said.

DOTC said that there are also two Land Transportation Office buildings ongoing rehabilitation in Naval and Ormoc, while three others will follow in Carigara, Palompon, and Tacloban.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s (LTFRB) Tacloban Office is also set to be rehabilitated.

Next year, Pope Francis is set to visit Tacloban to meet typhoon survivors himself. The DOTC, meanwhile, said that it is determined to finish the construction of the Taclobn Airport’s 320-by-105-meter airport apron to accommodate about a million faithful expected to witness a mass to be presided by the people’s pope. (PNA)

LAM/ANP/SGP

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