Posted on December 07, 2015 11:33:00 PM [ BusinessWorldonline.com]
By Carmelito Q. Francisco, Correspondent
DAVAO CITY -- The proposed P40-billion reclamation project in Davao City is expected to take off early next year with the original proponent, Mega Harbour Development Corp., poised to bag the contract after no counter-bids were submitted in a Swiss challenge last month.
“No other company expressed interest in the project, although there was one which sought that the period to challenge the project be extended,” Ivan C. Cortez, acting head of the Davao City Investment Promotion Center (DCIPC), told BusinessWorld.
The request for extension, however, was not granted as the unnamed company submitted it to the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center under the national government instead of the city government, which is the lead implementer and will serve as the project partner.
Mega Harbour, owned by the group of businessman Reghis M. Romero II, had submitted an unsolicited proposal to the city government to develop a 200-hectare mixed-use project via reclamation.
This triggered the Swiss challenge, which was held last month. Under the Swiss challenge mechanism, Mega Harbour as the original proponent of the project is allowed to match a challenger’s bid.
Mr. Cortez said the city council is now reviewing the resolution that would grant Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte the authority to sign a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with Mega Harbour to get the project underway.
“Because this is a local project, the mayor cannot sign without the authority of the city council,” he explained.
The project, covering 200 hectares from the existing Sta. Ana Wharf to the Bucana area where the Davao River flows out to the Davao Gulf, would be a joint venture between the company and the city government. The contract would be under a “perpetual” term unless the MoA is revoked.
Under the plan, Mega Harbour will begin with the reclamation of four islands, with the first to be developed as a modern port that “will service all kinds of vessels” with a berthing length of about 2.5 kilometers, which will make it the longest in the Davao Region.
The second and third islands will be for mixed-use development, including commercial components.
The city government will get about five hectares for public offices in either of these two islands.
“The city government is given the privilege to choose where to locate,” Mr. Cortez said.
The first three islands will be interconnected and will have a common access to the mainland.
The fourth island will feature the residential component, including the relocation housing site for affected settlers in the project area. It will not be connected to the other three islands and will have its own access to the mainland.
Mr. Cortez said the reclamation project would practically render the planned P18.99-billion Sasa port modernization project “useless.”
“It might become (a white elephant) if it would not be more efficient than the other ports as well as the port that would be built in the reclamation project,” Mr. Cortez said.
The DCIPC official noted that the Sasa Port project has yet to secure an endorsement from the city council, which is a required under the law.
The Sasa modernization project, to be rolled out by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) under the public-private partnership (PPP) program, has met opposition from the local business community and local governments units.