Mindoro’s ‘food highway’ gets boost with completion of 8 integrated seaport projects as PRRD leads the unveiling

18 NOVEMBER 2021, MANILA—The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) are set to unveil on Thursday another eight seaport development projects in the provinces of Mindoro worth P754 million.

The completed seaport development projects are expected to enhance and sustain efficiency at Mindoro’s ‘food highway’ resulting in faster movement of the supply chain and eventually lowering the market prices, particularly essential products.

PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago said the completion of these various seaport projects on the island is timely especially now that the country has started recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With these projects, we expect to secure the continued supply of basic goods passing through this ‘food highway’ with less spillage and lower cost,” Santiago said.

“It will likewise facilitate the movement of interisland travel as Mindoro now offers more alternatives to travelers passing through the western node of the country’s Ro-Ro highway,” Santiago explained.

“These projects are proof of the desire of the Duterte Administration to bring the country into the Golden Age of Infrastructure through its Build-Build-Build initiative and eventually provide comfort and convenience to the Filipino people,” Santiago added.

The completed projects, which will be unveiled by no less than President Rodrigo Roa Duterte together with DOTr Secretary Art Tugade along with other invited national and local officials, including the expansion and construction of the Port Operations Building at the Port of Abra de Ilog; construction of back-up area, Passenger Terminal Building and Ro-Ro ramp at the Balatero Port in Puerto Galera; expansion of the ports of Roxas and Mansalay; construction of back-up area and other improvements at the port of Bulalacao; construction of RC Pier, Platform and Ro-Ro ramp at the port of Bansud; and the construction of the coastal access road at the port of Calapan.

The port of Abra de Ilog, considered the main gateway to and from Occidental Mindoro, is averaging about 4,500 shipcalls, 800,000 passengers, and 2,400 metric tons of cargo annually. The number is expected to increase by some 50% with the new development and eventually double the traffic as the PPA and DOTr are again set to embark on another expansion project, and the construction of a breakwater to make the port more efficient for shippers and cargo owners as well as vessel operations.

The Balatero Port, also known as the Port of Puerto Galera, meanwhile, is predominantly a tourism port due to the famous beaches in the area frequented by locals and tourists all year long. It is handling about 1,700 shipcalls, and 200,000 passengers annually. Like Abra de Ilog, this port will also undergo a port expansion project to accommodate the increasing tourism demand as the country eases its COVID-19 restrictions.

The Port of Roxas, on the other hand, is the main access of the province to Western Visayas via Malay, Aklan. The port is handling close to 2,800 shipcalls, 127,000 metric tons of cargo, and about a million passengers annually. With the recent expansion carried out by the PPA-DOTr, the port is now poised to handle double its current capacity.

The port of Bulalacao is also another access to Western Visayas and soon to Palawan. It was built primarily to complement the operations of the Port of Roxas to handle its spillovers. About a thousand shipcalls are being handled at the port on a yearly basis with cargo throughput of about 17,900 metric tons of Ro-Ro and non-Ro-Ro. Passenger volume is pegged at 171,900 passengers. Its expansion project will increase the port’s capacity to handle at least 30% more of its current port traffic.

The ports of Mansalay and Bansud, meanwhile, are relatively new ports. With the burgeoning traffic at the ports of Roxas and Bulalacao as well as some percentage coming from the port of Calapan, shipcalls, cargo, and passenger traffic are expected to pick up as the country eases its restrictions against the pandemic.

The Calapan Port is the main gateway and biggest port on the island of Mindoro. The newly constructed coastal access road, which was only realized during this administration after decades of clamor from Mindoreños, will decongest road traffic to and from the port as it diverts cargo trucks away from the main road artery. It is expected to reduce vehicular traffic inside the port by at least 50%, thus, allowing the port to take in more traders traversing the major islands of the Philippines. Construction of its Passenger Terminal Building is also ongoing and is expected to be completed before the term of President Duterte ends in June of next year. Once finished, it will be the biggest seaport passenger terminal building in the country as its capacity will increase to 3,500 at any given time, effectively dislodging the Cagayan de Oro port from the top spot at 3,000 passengers at any one time.

“This is really an exciting moment for the Philippine Ports Authority since we are able to contribute to the Build-Build-Build initiative of the Government. With the strong-willed leadership of President Duterte and the unwavering guidance and support of Secretary Art Tugade, PPA will continue to build and improve ports, and will continue to link the Philippines as one maritime nation,” Santiago added.