BY: ANNA LEAH E. GONZALES (The Manila Times) 

AT least P10 billion is needed to further develop Port Irene and the Cagayan North International Airport, the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) on Tuesday.

On the sidelines of the 1st CEZA Investment Summit in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, CEZA Administrator and CEO Raul Lambino told reporters that for the port, “we would be needing at least P5 billion for wharves, new piers, and dredging.”

Another breakwater would require “another P5 billion,” he added.

Found inside the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport in Santa Ana town, Port Irene is near the biggest developed markets in the Asia-Pacific. Though the port is along major international shipping lanes, inadequate infrastructure and poor port conditions prevented it from realizing his full potential.

According to Lambino, CEZA is looking to increase the port’s depth from the current 8 to 10 meters to 15 to 20 meters, and the pier’s length from 180 meters to 300 meters.

“Our navigational canal also needs to be deeper. Currently, it is only 5 to 8 meters deep, so big vessels cannot enter the port. We need to dredge to make it deeper,” he said.

“[W]e have to dredge at 3 million cubic meters, so [that]Panamax vessels can enter,” the agency chief added.
South Korea-based Fairbridge Construction Corp. will undertake the dredging, Lambino said, “but they cannot start immediately, because we need to carefully study the limitations, how wide the allowance is for the breakwater to not collapse.”

The agency will wait the results of the technical evaluation the company will make, and of the survey that the US and Philippine Navy will conduct, he added.

On the airport, found in Lal-lo town, Lambino said CEZA was updating the master plan of the airport, noting that it was originally designed as a regional one.

There are many who are interested to further develop the airport, mainly from Hong Kong and the Chinese cities of Xiamen and Guangzhou, according to the agency chief.

“We are thinking of putting [an]additional taxi way or another runway to truly make it a world-class international airport that would cater [to]the biggest commercial planes,” Lambino said.

“Our plan is to [also]put up a four-story terminal building,” he added.

Once fully developed, Cagayan North can accommodate up to 2,000 passengers daily, compared with the current 1,500, Lambino said, adding that it would have four incoming flights and four outgoing ones.