GenSan’s Makar port urgently needs upgrading, Soccsksargen officials
GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Key officials of the Soccsksargen region pressed for the upgrading of the facilities of the port of General Santos, also called the Makar Port, to entice more investors to come in and encourage existing ones to stay.
The Regional Development Council (RDC) – Soccsksargen, chaired by Cotabato Governo Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, is pushing for the upgrading of the port’s facilities, saying that its current state is driving investors away from the region.
“Time is of the essence. We cannot just wait and see. We have already lost a lot of opportunities in the past, and we cannot afford to lose more,” Mendoza said in a statement.
She said that key players of the agri-fishery industry in Soccsksargen had been canceling port calls at the Makar Port, which lacked facilities to service gear-less vessels.
When consulted, key players in the agri-fishery and the shipping industry voiced out this among their concerns. They said these issues should be addressed as “urgent” to regain the port’s lost opportunities and be on par with the other international ports in the country.
But South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. assured that the Makar Port could resume its “full capacity operations by next year.”
Tamayo said in his state of the province address (sopa) that prospective big-ticket investors in the province were turned off because they could not make use of Makar Port as gateway to the area because of its lack of facilities.
Prospective investors complained of high logistical costs since their raw materials would have to pass through the Davao port because Makar port was operating below capacity.
Products from the province are also being brought to the Davao port for shipment to other places because of the port’s inadequate facilities, he added.
Tamayo said the Provincial Development Council of South Cotabato had submitted a resolution to the RDC in Soccsksargen, seeking the full operation of Makar Port as soon as possible.
He noted that both the RDC-Soccsksargen and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) recognized the need to maximize the operations of the Makar Port.
“This year or next year, the said port will begin full operation,” Tamayo said.
Makar port is supposed to serve as the primary gateway for agriculture and marine products being shipped from the provinces of South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Sarangani to the domestic and international markets.
But to maximize the port’s potential and boost its economic competitiveness, the government needs to invest in some major facilities and equipment; among them the likes of quay gantry cranes and gearless service carriers, RDC-Soccsksargen said.
In September 2021, the Makar Port unveiled its P62.8 million port operations building, which houses the port integrated clearance office, a one-stop-shop for all PPA transactions like marine and terminal services, berthing, public assistance and complaints, assessment and collection services, among others.
The Makar Port used to serve domestic passenger routes for Zamboanga, Iloilo and Manila and vice versa, but stopped this operation in 2008 due to lack of passengers, who were diverted to airlines.
During a special meeting in Manila in November 2022, Jay Daniel Santiago, PPA general manager, committed to prioritize the upgrading of Makar Port, in response to concerns raised by key Soccsksargen officials.