PRA inks deal to help Toledo City move project forward
A proposed 11-hectare reclamation project in Toledo City, which is foreseen to spur economic development in western Cebu and decongest the province’s metropolitan area, is finally moving forward toward its fruition.
This developed after Toledo City Mayor John Henry “Sonny” Osmeña on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), signifying the latter’s commitment to guide the local government as it complies with the requirements in the next 30 days.
“This is a milestone for Toledo. This is something we have been dreaming about, hoping for, and almost gave up any hope for,” he said during the signing ceremony at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Cebu City.
Osmeña said since day one of his mayorship, which was about four years ago, he has already envisioned doing the project in Toledo, which has not come to fruition until today.
The 11-hectare reclamation project in Barangay Poblacion, which is estimated to cost P644 million, is intended to house a port and other related facilities in addition to what the city has now.
The Toledo City port facilitates travel between Cebu and the neighboring island of Negros via linkages to San Carlos City.
Mayor Osmeña said this new undertaking would be a “great source of employment” and that he was hoping that it would decongest container truck traffic in Cebu City.
“The day for Toledo to be a port and industrial center overseeing shipping is upon us,” Osmeña said.
He said they also hope to build oil depots in Toledo City, serving the whole western part of the province, in an effort to curb accidents involving oil tankers.
Of the P644 million investment for the project, P1.3 million will come from a Landbank of the Philippines loan while the rest will be financed by the city government.
The pier and other facilities will be put up for public-private partnerships or outside investors, said Osmeña.
Once the city government gets approval from the PRA, Osmeña said that it would be the time when they would open the project for bidding.
The city government is also looking to apply for a 300-hectare reclamation project in Barangay Talavera, which Osmeña described as a mixed-use commercial development.
However, the mayor said he might no longer be alive when that would happen.
Osmeña is 81 years old.
Cebu Provincial Board Member Victoria Corominas-Toribio, representing the 3rd district which Toledo City is under, gave her full support for the project.
Corominas-Toribio said this would open up more opportunities in the west coast.
“Usually, all the industries are in the east coast. But here, we have big industries including mines and power plants in Toledo alone. There is also a shipbuilding industry in Balamban,” she said in a separate interview.
She said that the mayor’s dream project would boost existing industries in the area, generating employment and creating better lives for the people.
Lawyer Janilo Rubiato, PRA general manager and chief executive officer, for his part, said they are committed to guide the local government every step of the way.
“From the moment you submit your requirements up until we evaluate the project, we will be there,” Rubiato said.
He said they intend to be “liberal” in waiting for preliminary requirements.
The PRA official was optimistic that this project will be beneficial to the city in the long-run as it will have a great impact on progress through the creation of additional areas of growth.
Meanwhile, environmental group Greenpeace, however, warned in a statement about the effects of reclamation projects to areas where they would be built.
“Greenpeace South East Asia strongly believes that any disturbance affecting marine ecosystem balance, sustainable fisheries, productivity, and livelihoods of people depending on this resource must be restrained at all costs,” the group said.
The group said that instead of reclaiming seas, there is an urgent need to establish ocean sanctuaries so that our marine ecosystem will recover.
“Reclamation affects us all, especially the marginalized fisherfolk sector. Reclamation dislocates fisherfolk from their source of livelihood and their homes in the coastal areas,” Greenpeace said.