PPA earmarks P320M for Matnog port upgrade

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) said they are currently addressing the logistics and bureaucratic issues hampering operations at the Port of Matnog in the province of Sorsogon.

Elmer Nonnatus A. Cadano, PPA assistant general manager for finance and administration, said in a recent online talk that the agency is already implementing a major rehabilitation plan for the port.

The project, worth about P324 million, involves constructing several backup areas and additional roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) ramps.

Once the project is completed, the movement of vessels, passengers and cargoes to and from the port will be enhanced and the long queue at the port will decline, added Cadano, who spoke at the 30thVisayas Area Business Conference on July 29.

He said PPA is also collaborating with the Department of Transportation and the Department of Trade and Industry to undertake a P550-million port development project in the Sorsogon municipality of Santa Magdalena next year.

He said that “we have already done the feasibility study and in fact we already have our program of work” on how to carry out the Santa Magdalena port development.

Once the port of Santa Magdalena is completed, PPA plans to dedicate one port, Matnog, to ro-ro cargo, while the other one will be purely for cargo to make operations more efficient and systematic, while also avoiding human interference “where usually corruption comes in,” Cadano added.

Moreover, PPA is undertaking procurement for the services, installation, development and operation of an electronic terminal management system at Matnog port that will have a ticket issuing component for port users’ convenience and comfort.

“Hopefully we will be able to roll that out before the end of the year and it will be in full operation, in full swing by next year,” said Cadano.

PortCalls last month reported that PPA has issued an invitation to bid for the port terminal management contract of Matnog port. The P962-million concession contract covers the management and operation of cargo-handling, ro-ro, passenger, and other port-related services.

The pre-bid conference was scheduled for July 23, and deadline for the submission of bids is August 9.

PPA has also opened two additional ro-ro ramps, increasing Matnog port’s ro-ro ramps to eight, to address the lack of infrastructure and increase port safety, Portcalls added.

Meanwhile, ARTA director general Jeremiah Belgicain the same event said the agency is working with national agencies and local government units to streamline port processes at the problematic Matnog port.

Belgica said ARTA will be issuing “in the coming days” a joint memorandum circular with national government agencies, the provincial government and the municipal government on simplifying port processes.

Belgica in May 2021 bared plans to open a one-stop shop at Matnog port to address allegations of extortion and corruption after it received numerous reports of congestion and “fixing” at the port.

Truck owners claimed that fees as high as P8,000 were being asked of hauling trucks for a slot in the priority list to ensure they would get on board the vessels quickly. The fixers also reportedly asked passengers for money to buy coffee and snacks.

Matnog port is a jump-off port from Luzon to the Visayas and Mindanao that handles
ro-ro vessels and services passengers. The port, however, is known to suffer perennial congestion and truck queuing, especially during the pre-holidays when passengers travelling home flock the terminal.

Port and maritime agencies last May said measures have been laid out to address the issue of fixing and corruption, particularly the hampered shipping operations at the port caused by congestion and the truck queuing on roads leading to the terminal.

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