Subic Bay Freeport—The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has allotted PHP2.46 billion for the rehabilitation of piers and wharves in this Freeport.
Newly-appointed SBMA Chairperson and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said the move is part of an effort to fully improve the so-called heart and soul of this premier maritime logistics center.
“The piers and wharves are undeniably the biggest assets of Subic Bay, and our sea port generates the biggest income among all the SBMA units,” Eisma said.
“We need to put these assets in top condition so that we can service more vessels and also get top returns for our investments,” she added.
The Subic Bay Freeport has a total of 15 piers and wharves that can serve various purposes from transshipment of containerized and break-bulk cargoes, fuels and lubricants, grains and fertilizer, as well as servicing vessels and passengers.
The port of Subic also offers key services like cargo handling, pilot and tugboat services, ship chandling, bunkering and tendering, ship agents, onboard repair, cargo survey, underwater survey, and vessel lay-up and line handling.
Eisma said that while Subic has its own airport, its seaport is the most viable facility to develop and earn from.
“With the money the government is pouring into Clark today, Subic cannot hope to compete with its airport, so we have to prioritize development of our seaport,” she explained.
Eisma particularly cited the Alava Pier, which services military and passenger vessels in Subic, that needs to be dredged and its piles strengthened in order to accommodate bigger cruise ships.
“We have concluded talks with some cruise liners and the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. , which will dock in Subic starting next May, but we cannot bring in those with passenger capacity of up to 5,000 because our piers are not yet upgraded,” Eisma said.
She said that attending the 2017 Asia Cruise Forum in Jeju, South Korea last August made her realized it was really necessary to rehabilitate Alava Pier to bring it on par with global cruise standards.
Aside from the repairs of piers and wharves, the SBMA also plans to undertake major projects like upgrading of facilities at the Subic Bay International Airport, concreting and repair of roads, port dredging, building of the proposed SBMA-Olongapo Museum, and the construction of the Magsaysay Bridge, which leads to the Freeport main gate;
The Subic agency is also planning to build an SBMA Corporate Center to house the various SBMA offices that are scattered among several US Navy-era buildings. PNA