Tacloban City — The Korean government will proceed with a feasibility study next month for the development of a transhipment hub in nearby Babatngon town in Leyte province.
Oliver Cam, Regional Development Council (RDC) private sector representative for business, said officials of the Korean Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs are interested in doing the study after inspecting the Babatngon port last week.
“Koreans want to transform the Babatngon wharf into an internationally competitive port. The plan is to develop an economic zone attached to the port,” said Cam, one of the RDC members who accompanied the visiting Korean transport ministry officials.
Babatngon is located in the northern part of Leyte Island and along Carigara Bay.
The town’s port has been eyed by experts as a regional hub since big ships find it hard to reach the regional capital. Large Tacloban-bound vessels have to navigate the narrow San Juanico Strait that separates Samar and Leyte Islands to reach the regional center.
The feasibility study will run from April to October this year. The costs, estimated between P2 million and P15 million, will be covered by grants from the Korean government, according to Cam.
The development will be carried out through public-private partnership and a joint venture between Korean and Filipino investors.
The recent visit of Korean officials is in response to the RDC endorsement of the proposal for the feasibility study and master plan of the Babatngon port.
The proposal, together with the RDC resolution, will be forwarded to the Department of Transportation to back up the Philippine government’s request for Korean government support.
The proposed port will be a part of the Tacloban North Agro-Industrial Economic Zone.
Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Eastern Visayas Regional Director Edgar Tabacon said that as part of long-term development, the government will build a bridge that will connect Babatngon and Sta. Rita, Samar.
The bridge will be an alternative to the San Juanico Bridge, the only structure that links Leyte and Samar Islands.