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P232M earmarked for Jolo airport

By Julie Alipala
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:46:00 10/15/2008

Filed Under: Air Transport, Regional authorities

JOLO, SULU ? The Philippine and US governments is pouring in P232 million to widen and improve this capital town?s airport to accommodate bigger aircraft.

Carlos Tan, program director of the Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) on Infrastructure Identification and Counterpart Management, said the construction firm CS Santiago Contractors started its onsite survey and ground civil works two weeks ago.

?We hope to complete the upgrading and improvement within a period of 10 months,? Tan said.

The existing runway is 18 meters wide. It will be expanded to 30 meters. Its length will be stretched from 1,700 meters to 1,830 meters.

Upgrading will also cover the rehabilitation of the runway, making it durable for heavy aircraft. ?The design of the upgrading and improvement is intended to accommodate bigger aircraft such as Boeing 737s,? said Tan.

Currently, he said, the airport could not accommodate bigger aircraft because its runway was too narrow. It can only handle the 30-seater types like the ones used by Asian Spirit, Seair and military cargo planes.

Usman Asgari, officer-in-charge of the airport, said the airfield once belonged to the US military. ?It used to be a US airfield covering about 1,000 meters of runway. The Americans used this place at the height of the war against the Japanese,? he said.

The airfield was turned over to the local government after the war. In 1965, then President Ferdinand Marcos ordered the paving and asphalting of the runway when he visited the province. The runway was extended by another 200 meters.

Marcos again ordered a 500-meter extension, Asgari said.

Tan said that of the P232-million funding for the airport?s upgrading, P142 million would come from the GEM-USAID while P90 million would come from the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC).

?The GEM-USAID funding will concentrate on runway upgrading,? Tan said.

The DOTC will focus on the relocation and resettlement of some settlers, as well as the construction of the Philippine Air Force building.



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