BACOLOD CITY?Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza said Friday the P300 million needed to extend the Bacolod-Silay City International Airport?s runway by 500 meters is now available.
Work will begin in the third or fourth quarter of this year for the project that is expected to boost trade and tourism in Negros Occidental.
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) was just waiting for the release of P300 million in funds to start the bidding process for the project, Mendoza said in an interview at the sidelines of the 25th Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary (PCGA) national convention at the Bacolod Pavilion Resort Hotel where he was a speaker.
The Bacolod-Silay International Airport is already a regional airport open to aircraft from neighboring countries, but the extension of the runway will allow even bigger airplanes to land at the airport, he said.
The airport was built for P4 billion on a 181-hectare land in Silay City, 15 km northeast of Bacolod City.
It was opened last year, replacing the Bacolod City Domestic Airport located at the city proper.
A P1.5 billion, 10-km access road is also being constructed for a faster link between Bacolod City and the airport.
The decision to extend the airport?s runway by 500 meters was part of DOTC?s continuing effort to modernize and upgrade the country?s air and sea ports that serve as gateways to tourism, trade and agriculture, Mendoza said.
In his speech at the PCGA convention, Mendoza also said that with the national government?s thrust toward economic growth and greater national development, the maritime sector was expected to play a significant role in ensuring the competitiveness of national products in the global market.
The fast and efficient transport of materials and goods to and from industrial estates and centers of growth and into local markets would ?naturally be conducted through sea carriage,? he said.
The assistance that PCGA has been providing is vital because the organization does not only help ensure the safety of ships and sea lanes but also helps in protecting the country?s marine environment, Mendoza said.
Mendoza said the government was also continuing to modernize and rehabilitate strategic ports to promote domestic shipping, help the agricultural sector become more productive.