P2.46B earmarked for Subic seaport, airport rehab

Subic port. FILE PHOTO

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) will fast-track the rehabilitation of the seaport and airport in this former United States naval base to draw in more investors and revenues for the agency.

SBMA Chair and Administrator Wilma Eisma said a P2.46-billion budget had been earmarked for the renovation of the free port’s piers and wharves that she noted had been neglected in the past administrations.

“The piers and wharves are undeniably the biggest assets of Subic Bay Freeport and our seaport generates the biggest income among all SBMA units,” Eisma told a press briefing here.

The free port has 15 piers and wharves that can serve various purposes from transshipment of containerized and break-bulk cargoes, fuels and lubricants, grains and fertilizer, as well as service vessels and passengers.

She cited the Alava Pier where US naval ships and small cruise ships dock.

“There had been no changes in the Alava Pier in the last 25 years. There had been no maintenance [in that pier]. We could no longer allow an aircraft carrier to dock there. It’s only 40 meters deep and it’s silted,” Eisma said.

She added: “[The] dredging [around the Alva Pier] is already happening. In the past, nobody bothered to check [the need to repair the port]. I need to repair it and I’m prepared to get a loan [for its rehabilitation].”

According to the proposed 2018 SBMA budget that passed the Senate’s subcommittee on finance, the repair of Subic piers and wharves will take up the bulk of the agency’s P3.548-billion infrastructure budget for 2018, aside from the SBMA Corporate Center project which has a price tag of P3.2 billion.

The repair of piers and wharves will cost P2.45 billion while the other major projects will cost P489.3 million for road concreting and repair; P390.7 million for the Magsaysay bridge; P83.38 million for port dredging; P80 million for a museum; and P45.4 million for upgrading of airport facilities.

“We need to put these assets in top condition so that we can service more vessels and also get top returns for our investments,” Eisma said. —ALLAN MACATUNO