Gammacon Builders, Inc. (GBI), an engineering consultancy firm, and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) VIII Eastern Leyte/Samar consulted NEDA VIII on the conduct of the feasibility study (FS) and Master Plan on the Babatngon Port as the Eastern Visayas Transshipment Hub. This was during a coordination meeting on 25 September 2023, at the Felipina Hall, NEDA Regional Office VIII, Government Center, Palo, Leyte.

In her welcome message, NEDA VIII Project Monitoring and Evaluation Division Chief Economic Development Specialist (CEDS) Evangeline M. Paran expressed NEDA VIII’s full support to the conduct of FS and formulation of a Master Plan on the Eastern Visayas Transshipment Hub. Said hub is one of the priority projects of the Office of the House Speaker and Leyte First District Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez.

She added that once realized, the project will greatly contribute to the economic growth of Eastern Visayas. The Babatngon Port is also a complementary project to the Second San Juanico Bridge, which is currently undergoing a full-blown FS by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Project Manager Manatad shared that the Babatngon Port is one of 10 ports throughout the country selected by PPA for the conduct of FS and formulation of Master Plans. The FS will determine the long-term directions and evaluate the technical soundness, operational and economic feasibility, and financial viability of the said ports. These ports are expected to significantly promote the country’s desired social and economic development goals. The study commenced in July 2023 and is expected to be completed in May 2024.

She said that in developing the ports, it is crucial to warrant a seamless pace of development. This is to ensure that development directions of the port include short and long-term (5 to 30 years) requirements, including the facilities and equipment, the increasing port services, maintenance and operations costs, and port expansion, among others. Specifically, she emphasized the need for port delineation and the linkage towards the nearby areas to ensure active vessel and passenger traffic and support to local industries.

NEDA VIII Supervising EDS Jay-ar O. Ragub presented to GBI the highlights of the Philippine Development Plan and Eastern Visayas Regional Development Plan 2023-2028. He stressed particularly the strategy to expand and upgrade Infrastructure by ensuring that inter-island shipping remains a viable option for transporting people and cargo, and the Visayas Spatial Development Framework 2015-2045. He said that the realization of the Babatngon Port is consistent with the said plans. Moreover, several Regional Development Council VIII resolutions have been passed pushing for the establishment of a regional transshipment hub.

CEDS Paran assured GBI that NEDA VIII will provide all its available documents/reference materials that will facilitate and help fast-track the conduct of the study.

In his closing message, PPA VIII Eastern Leyte/Samar Acting Principal Engineer Victor Ansel O. Tingzon shared that port congestion is a lingering issue in various ports in the region. They are happy with all the steps that are now being undertaken to make the Babatngon port a reality to help address the said problem and bring about economic progress in the region. He assured GBI that PPA, as implementing agency, will also provide all-out support to the study by making the minefield of information available.

Article by: Meliza Y. Bacolbas (PMED)

Photos by: Jay-ar O. Ragub/Mark G. Lomboy (PMED)