The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) needs P10 billion in investments to develop Port Irene into a world-class port even as it is considering proposals for the expansion of the Cagayan North International Airport (CNIA), according to Raul Lambino, administrator and chief executive officer.
Lambino told reporters on the sidelines of the CEZA Investment Summit at the Manila House yesterday Port Irene would need P5 billion in investments to develop the wharves and piers as well as the dredging to deepen its waters and accommodate bigger vessels.
Lambino said another P5 billion will be needed if it would build another breakwater.
While previous administrations have poured in P5.4 billion for the breakwater to get the port into its current capacity, Lambino said more improvements are needed to bring up Port Irene to world-class status.
According to Lambino, Port Irene has a depth of 8 to 12 meters and needs to be deepened to 15 to 20 meters; the pier which now measues 180 meters needs to be widened to 300 meters to accommodate 30,000 to 40,000-tonner vessels from the presenmt12,000 to 20,000 ton vehicles.
The additional wharves and piers would expand Port Irene’s capacity to 600,000 TEU. (twenty-foot equivalent unit) . The port also needs a container yard and bulk cargo facility.
CEZA has earlier signed with Korean firm Fairbridge Overseas Development-Philippines Inc. has offered to spend P2.5 billion for the dredging of the navigational canal but the project is yet to start pending the study how the dredging would affect the other facilities.
For now the port receives cargoes mostly construction materials like cement as well as fertilizer from Vietnam, China and Korea.
According to Lambino, the number of port calls to Port Irene has doubled to 12 from two years ago.
“We have taken the first steps towards modernizing Port Irene, but there are gaps where new investments can be poured in. Port Irene needs a major dredging of its narrow bay so it could accommodate bigger and heavier vessels,” Lambino said in his presentation.
For the airport, CEZA has so far spent P1.5 billion.
Lambino said the CEZA, which owns 50 percent of a joint venture company that operates the CNIA, said it is reviewing and updating the masterplan for the airport to include the construction of an additional taxiway to accommodate wide-bodied aircraft.
The agency is in negotiations with Cagayan Land Corp., its partner in Cagayan Premium Development Ventures which owns the airport on the plan, including proposals from Chinese companies.
Lambino said as it is the airport has attracted carriers Air Asia which expressed interest to appoint CNIA as a hub, Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, among others but that the CNIA has yet to be issued certification by the International Civil Aviation Organization to allow commercial flights.
Currently, CNIA allows chartered flights from Macau and Hong Kong, mostly carrying tourists as well as from Clark.
Lambino said CEZA is also pushing to its partner for the expansion of the terminal capacity by building a four-storey terminal building.
In his speech at the summit, Lambino cited Port Irene and CNIA as CEZA’s priorities,
“To implement (CEZA’s ) development strategy, we have identified the following big-ticket projects: development of Port Irene and the establishment of the Port Irene industrial park and upgrading of the CBUA and its development into the aerotropolis of Northern Philippines,” he said.
CEZA targets to grow its revenues to P283 million, a 21 percent increase from P234 million in 2017. For the first quarter, revenues stood at P80 million.