Ormoc airport expansion on course

By Felix N. Codilla III
August 3, 2010

ORMOC CITY—Work on this city’s airport-development project will continue next month. This is the assurance given by contractor Eduardo Canlas to quell speculations that politics has stalled the project even if this will boost Ormoc’s image as a major tourist destination.

Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez said in a radio interview recently that the airport project was halted because the work contract was not yet signed. The project is credited to former congressman Eufrocino M. Codilla Sr., as the special allotment release order was released on October 20 last year.

Canlas confirmed Gomez’s claim the contract is not yet signed, but said this had nothing to do with the work stoppage. The real reason, he said, was that funds for the acquisition of adjacent properties haven’t been released yet by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

The five-year (2009-14) airport-development program is divided into three phases. Phase I, which was lobbied by Codilla, costs P80 million, with P15 million allotted for site acquisition. Despite the non-release of the P15-million fund, Canlas was able to gain access to one of the properties subject for expropriation.

He secured a permit to enter and work on the 11,062-square-meter property of Leonardo Sagales, where a new terminal will rise. But the permit is good only from June 1 to July 15, the reason he had to stop, he said.

Gomez’s claim that the contract has not yet been signed is also true, which Canlas attributes to the change of administration.

The project was bid out on February 23 and awarded in April to Tokweng Construction. That time, Transportation Secretary Anneli Lontoc had just been installed as replacement of Leandro Mendoza. Lontoc failed to sign the contract, as she was replaced on July 5 by Secretary Jose P. de Jesus.

Canlas is confident the new Transportation secretary will sign the contract before August, as it is highly recommended by DOTC officials, namely, Dante Lulu, area manager for Western and Central Visayas Regions; Abelardo D. Sore, head engineer and architect of planning division; and Geronimo V. Quintos, chief of legal affairs and research division.

The three officials were in Ormoc recently to inspect work progress and were pleased to see that the project is ahead of schedule. The contractor was able to pour filling materials on the site and put up a temporary fence and bunkhouse. Once the contract is signed, the notice to proceed is automatically approved and the contractor can continue the project.

Phase I involves site development and construction of security fence and a 1,350-sq-m terminal costing P64 million. The terminal facilities will include a check-in counter, arrival and predeparture area, and administrative office. Some 5.4 hectares are being prioritized for acquisition for Phase I at P200 per sq m. However, processing of documentary requirements by landowners is taking time.

The contract duration for the terminal is nine months, but Canlas is bent on finishing it in seven to eight months. Such is his commitment to the project that he has spent some P1 million of personal funds. If his schedule is followed, the airport will have a spanking new passenger terminal next summer.

Phase 2 will involve the demolition of the old existing terminal to give way to the extension and widening of the runway and apron, as well as construction of a turnaround pad. Other improvements slated are a new fire station, administration building, powerhouse and control tower.

Navigational facilities are also considered in the five-year plan, like precision approach path indicator lights, very high-frequency Omni range, as well as runway markers and lights. All these developments would require an expansion of the airport site from the present 17 to 41 hectares.

Canlas said the fulfillment of all these plans will depend on the aggressive lobbying of the new congresswoman. If the development plan is fulfilled, the airport’s category will be raised from the present principal class II, or secondary, to principal class I, or trunk line. --Business Mirror

No comments:

Post a Comment