Davao del Norte pushing alternative airport in Samal

Subscribe Now March 05, 2012 at 12:08am

The provincial government of Davao del Norte has proposed to the Regional Development Council the construction of a multibillion-peso alternative regional airport in Samal Island, an official said. "The Davao International Airport has no more room for expansion. In five to 10 years, it will already become too congested," Davao del Norter Governor Rodolfo P. del Rosario told BusinessWorld.

Based on initial plans, P10 billion is needed for the construction of the proposed 1.5-kilometer Samal-Davao bridge.

"We may also need another P10 billion for the construction of the proposed Samal airport," Mr. del Rosario said, adding that the Samal local government unit can readily identify 1,000 hectares for the project.

With a budget of close to P5 billion and funded through loans from the Asian Development Bank and the European Investment Bank, the current Davao International Airport was constructed in 2000 and opened its terminal in 2003. It was built to handle nearly 85,000 metric tons of cargo and another two million passengers each year.

Mr. del Rosario said the proposed airport will significantly increase traffic between Davao City and Samal, ensuring a higher rate of return for investors who will eventually underwrite the construction of the bridge connecting this city with the island after the airport goes on stream.

The regional development council has earlier endorsed the construction of the Davao-Samal bridge project. Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio is interested in pursuing the project but it lacked support from her father, former mayor and now Vice-Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte.

"Mayor Sara already promised that she could have the Sta. Ana Wharf cleared of informal settlers and developed (once the project gets going)," Samal Mayor Aniano P. Antalan said.

Sta. Ana Wharf in Davao City currently serves ferry service from this city to various points in Samal.

Mr. Antalan said they have long wanted the bridge connecting both cities but the amount of investment cannot be shouldered by the island city.

In May 2008, officials of the MCC Capital Projects Ltd. signed an agreement with Samal officials after completing a feasibility study.

Under the agreement, the UK-based company will extend financial assistance to bankroll the projected $120-million project under a no-interest loan payable in 30 years. The project has yet to start after four years.

A component city of Davao del Norte, Samal Island lies in the middle of Davao Gulf, which spans across Davao City, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.

Samal Island has only about 1% of its total 30,000 hectares currently developed for tourism purposes.

Source: bworldonline.com

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