Thursday 22 August
May 22, 2018 @ 20:25

Goodbye Alice Eduardo: CEZA taps Korean firm to expand Port Irene


The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) has agreed to tap a Korean firm to modernize and expand Port Irene in Santa Ana which would cost P10 billion.

CEZA Administrator and Chief Executive Officer Raul Lambino said Fairbridge Overseas Development Philippines, Inc. from South Korea has been tapped to undertake the dredging and reclamation project for the Port Irene, including an initial investment of P2.5 billion.

?Port Irene needs a major dredging of its narrow bay so it could accommodate bigger and heavier vessels,” said Lambino during the CEZA Investment Summit 2018 Tuesday.

Lambino said the port would need more wharves and piers to expand its capacity to 600,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU). The project would also cover the container yard and bulk cargo facilities.

Lambino told reporters that Port Irene project will have an initial cost of P5 billion and would entail an additional P5 billion should a new breakwater infrastructure be needed.

The Port Irene breakwater project ran into controversy four years ago after the late Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago asked the Department of Justice to probe whether Alice Eduardo, owner of Sta. Elena Construction & Development Corp., was allegedly fronting for the former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile who used to control CEZA.

Santiago asked the DOJ to investigate Enrile?s financial interests ina dummy firm whose board of directors included his former chief of staff, lawyer Jessica Lucila Reyes, and Reyes? mother, Maria O. Cooper. and brother Neal Jose O. Gonzales (in an affiliate firm).

Both Enrile and Reyes were charged with plunder in the P10 billion pork barrel scam masterminded by Janet Lim Napoles. Enrile is out on bail while Reyes is still in detention.

?Enrile was able to insert this humongous amount in the budget for the Cagayan Freeport for the last five years. It appears that Enrile used their names to surreptitiously morph the free port into the main vehicle for smuggling and other illicit operations,? Santiago said in her letter.

CEZA is expanding the breakwater to serve more traffic with the establishment of a Port Irene Industrial Park.\

Lambino said CEZA also planned to bring back the operation of Cagayan North International Airport. CEZA, along with Cagayan Land Corp., formed the Cagayan Premium Development Ventures to operate the airport.

Cagayan airport had already ceased operations when Lambino took over in 201. It accommodated mainly chartered flights, from Macau and Hong Kong during its time in operation.

Lambino hoped to bring the Cagayan airport back to full operation within the year, pending a certification from International Civil Aviation Organization giving it the go-signal.

?In Cagayan North [International Airport], we are also updating our masterplan there. We are thinking of putting additional taxi way or another strip of runway to make it truly world class international airport that would cater the biggest commercial planes,? said Lambino. He said CEZA was in talks Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Air Asia, and SkyJet Airlines for its expansion plans. (With a report from PNA)

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