OPERATIONAL efficiency at the North Harbor, the country’s premier port, has fallen way below international standards stressing the need for its immediate rehabilitation by the private sector, according to the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).
In a report to Transport undersecretary Ma. Elena Bautista, who is in charge of the transport department’s water sector, PPA said the terminal facilities are more than 50 years old and have outlived their economic usefulness.
“Expectedly, structural soundness and operational safety (are) now (at) the critical stage. Operational efficiency at this port is way below international standards,” PPA said in the report.
PPA said it has no funds to finance improvements and only the immediate transfer of the port management and operation to a third-party will guarantee that the port is modernized.
PPA is also urging the Manila Regional Trial Court to decide on a suit filed by Harbour Centre Port Terminals Inc which questioned the port privatization process.
Harbour Centre, the lone eligible bidder for the 25-year North Harbor management and operations contract, filed a case in August 2007 after the PPA board inserted a provision in the bidding rules that there should be at least two eligible bidders for the project.
North Harbor services Metro Manila and the nearby provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, and Nueva Vizcaya, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, and Quezon.
It can accommodate all types of interisland vessels and has six main piers that cater to coastwise cargo and passenger ships.
The Philippine Interisland Shipping Association (PISA) earlier proposed to PPA the creation of a state-owned firm that will handle the development of North Harbor.
It said the new firm could secure seed money from aid agencies such as the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and Asian Development Bank for the development of the terminal.
PISA said this measure can still be qualified as privatization since the private sector can join the project once the firm becomes public or through private equity.