TACLOBAN CITY—The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) is carrying out PHP434 million expansion of Tacloban pier to meet growing demand for shipping in the regional capital.
The fourth phase of the expansion project will add three more berthing facilities by reclaiming a portion of the sea. The PPA awarded the project in January and will be completed within 2018.
“We need to develop the pier because many vessels have been coming to unload products. In fact, some cargo ships wait for their turn to dock at the Tacloban port. Shipping is still the most economical way to transport products,” said PPA Eastern Leyte and Samar Port Manager Dominador Licayan on Wednesday.
PPA records show that the number of ships that made port of call in Tacloban has increased eight percent from 635 in 2015 to 686 last year.
Currently, the four-hectare port has nine berthing facilities built through three phases of development and expansion projects.
The first phase, with a cost of PHP394.49 million, kicked off in 2012. It was followed with PHP235.5 million in 2013 for phase 2 and PHP352 million in 2014 for phase 3.
With the lack of berthing facilities, the port officials prioritizes vessels loaded with government rice and construction materials meant for post-“Yolanda” rehabilitation in the region.
Last month, at least 53 ships docked at the Tacloban wharf – 49 domestic vessels and four foreign ships.
The PPA pushed for the Tacloban port expansion despite long term plans to develop the nearby port in Babatngon, Leyte as regional transhipment hub.
Babatngon town, located in the northern part of Leyte island and along Carigara Bay, is just 22 kilometers north from the city. Its port has been eyed by experts as regional hub considering the difficulty of big ships to reach the port of Tacloban.
Large Tacloban-bound vessels have to traverse the narrow San Juanico Strait that separates Samar and Leyte islands to reach the city’s regional port center.
Passenger shipping operations in Tacloban has stopped more than 20 years ago after the development of the nautical highway linking the region to Luzon.