A world-class international airport at Puerto Princesa, Palawan, is set to open in early 2017 as the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) on Tuesday said that the airport expansion project was finally awarded to a Korean group.
DOTC said in a statement that the $82.9-million design-and-build contract was awarded to Kumho Industrial Co. Ltd.-GS Engineering and Construction joint venture (Kumho-GS), which is set to start work on a new passenger and cargo building, apron, taxiways and navigation facilities by the end of this year.
“Kumho-GS will have around thirty months to complete the project, which means that the DOTC expects the modern airport to be fully operational by the first quarter of 2017,” DOTC said in the statement. Upon completion, the airport will have an annual capacity of about 2 million passengers.
In 2013, it counted 1.34 million passengers, or way beyond the passenger terminal building’s current estimated capacity of only 350,000 passengers an annum, the statement showed.
The project is largely funded through a Korean Export Import Bank (KEXIM) loan amounting to $71.6 million. The loan is payable in 40 years, inclusive of a 10-and-a-half-year grace period, at an interest rate of 0.1 percent a year. Bidding for the project was limited to South Korean firms, the statement showed.
“The ecotourism showcase that is Puerto Princesa, as well as the rest of Palawan, will soon have a modern, world-class airport, which we can be as proud of as the destination itself. With beaches and other natural wonders attracting throngs of visitors from all over the globe, it will finally have a gateway that is befitting of its stature,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya said in a statement.
“Apart from boosting our tourism sector, this project will also generate jobs, particularly in the infrastructure sector. Overall, the estimate is up to 1,400 total new jobs during construction alone,” Abaya added.
In compliance with its engineering, procurement and construction contract, Kumho-GS will begin with the design component by the third quarter of this year. While the joint venture is preparing the airport’s detailed engineering design, it will also begin mobilizing its equipment and securing various project permits.
As a tied official development assistance (ODA) loan, the bidding process was governed by the Guidelines for Procurement of Korea’s Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) and decisions were concurred with by KEXIM.
Earlier this year, the DOTC awarded the contract for another major international airport, the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, under the Aquino administration’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program. “It is also expected to boost tourism and economic activity, not only in the Visayas region, but for the country as a whole,” the transportation department said in the statement.
Source: Miguel R. Camus, PDI