THE Hanjin shipbuilding facility is deemed to put the Philippines in the world map of large-scale shipbuilding, according to Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority chairman Feliciano Salonga.
"The government is making sure that infrastructure projects such as ours are on the right track because such are envisioned to stabilize the country’s economy by directly and indirectly attracting more investors, and creating job opportunities, thereby bolstering the President’s 10-point economic agenda," Salonga said.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last week visited the construction of the biggest foreign direct investment in the country this year.
Salonga added that the project would also complement the ongoing construction of the new container port under the Subic Port Development Project, as well as the Subic-Clark Toll Road Project that are both government flagship projects and being funded by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.
Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Co. (HHIC), dubbed as one of the world’s largest shipbuilders, formally signed in March this year the $1-billion lease agreement with the SBMA for the construction of a 2.3-million square meter shipyard at the Redondo Peninsula.
With the establishment of the new shipyard, the company aims to expand into offshore plant construction, which has been restricted due to the relatively small size of its Youngdo shipyard in the port city of Busan Metropolitan City, the largest harbor city in South Korea.
Jeong Sup Shim, president of HHIC-Phils. said the leased area is ideal for the building of liquefied natural gas carriers, very large crude-oil carriers and offshore drilling rigs.
In February this year, Hanjin Shipping and Industrial Co. Ltd. of South Korea granted the residents of Barangay Cawag, Subic compensation checks as part of its clearing operation to prepare the site for the construction of the shipyard.
A total of 196 families received checks as compensation for their relocation and payment for the residents’ houses, lot and farm improvements made in SBMA land. Residents were also given a better and more permanent site for relocation near the ship facility.
In March, HHIC opened some 6,500 job opportunities for the local residents, the biggest job fair ever held by a single company, where positions such as engineers, welders, pipefitters, foremen, crane operators, and agriculturists were offered.
The Hanjin operations include the production of liquefied natural gas carriers and other large ships as well as plants such as steel bridges, and are expected to generate up to 30,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities to add to the current Freeport workforce of 61,584.
Some 7,000 welders and painters will also be needed during actual operation.
According to SBMA executives, the country’s economy will also benefit from Hanjin’s operations as it will infuse at least $1.6 billion to the economy in terms of export values and workers’ income.
Moreover, HHIC also opened a P40-million training center for shipyard workers, the most modern training center in the country, which is located at the heart of the Municipality of Subic, Zambales.
HHIC-Phils. Managing Dir. Myung Goo Kwon disclosed that one factor for the success of the shipbuilding industry in the international market is the pool of qualified and competent manpower which is remotely available in the country at the moment.
The training center, which boasts of modern training facilities and qualified Korean instructors, will be the "cornerstone in developing and honing the skills of the Filipino trainees." It will transform regular, ordinary workers into qualified, skilled workers eligible to work in the shipyard. The training facility has three classrooms, 70 welding booths, one pipefitting room, four painting rooms and a large working area that could accommodate a maximum of 200 trainees and instructors.
About 100 Filipino welders were sent to Korean for an intensive training with
HHIC-Philippines’ mother company. They will be taught the necessary skills to qualify them for shipbuilding jobs.
Last month, officials of the SBMA, the province of Zambales, and the municipality of Subic led the groundbreaking ceremony for the P600-million Balaybay-Subic-Cawag access road that will connect the Hanjin Shipbuilding site with Zambales and the Freeport.