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More infra buildup in Mindanao sought

Exporters in Northern Mindanao are appealing to the national government to intensify infrastructure development in the region, especially the construction of alternate ground routes in areas frequently affected by calamities, accidents and firefights.
Michael Ignacio, executive director of Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (PhilExport) Region 10A, said that amid plans to build the Mindanao Railway System, there is an urgent need to undertake infrastructure projects that will make more areas in Mindanao accessible and ensure the uninterrupted flow of goods.
The proposed Mindanao Railway System, which aims to connect key regional cities including Davao, Zamboanga, Butuan, Surigao, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and General Santos, is currently tabled for approval.
“It is estimated that more than 30 percent of Mindanao’s productive areas are still undeveloped due to inaccessibility.
These undeveloped areas are also where the poorest of the poor reside and (have) always been the stronghold of insurgents, affecting Mindanao’s peace development for decades,” Ignacio said in a position paper obtained by the Daily Tribune.
He said alternate routes are needed for existing road links that get cut off by calamities such as landslides, floods, earthquakes; rebel firefights or ambushes; and major accidents.
“These road links are critical to Northern Mindanao not just for economic opportunities but for sustenance as well,” explained Ignacio.
These highways link production areas with the ports of Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Ozamiz, and Mindanao Container Terminal (MCT), as well as with Laguindingan and Ozamiz airports, all jump-off points to international and domestic markets.
The export leader also called for finally completing all of Mindanao’s arterial highways, especially the Mindanao east-west lateral highway.
Also proposed is a “fly-over” over Mangima and Maluku canyons in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, as a means to reduce traffic congestion, road accidents and trucking costs in Northern Mindanao.
Ignacio said the only highway currently providing linkage in the subregion has to pass through these two canyons, raising trucking costs due to obstacles in the terrain.
Turning to ports, Ignacio sought the upgrading of MCT at the Phividec Industrial Estate in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.
He said that while more than 80 percent of Northern Mindanao’s import and export traffic passes through the terminal, its structural limitations are “a major issue why other foreign callers are not interested to call.”
MCT also does not have a complete customs, immigration, quarantine and security system until now, he said.
There is also a call for a new seaport in Opol, Misamis Oriental to decongest traffic to and from the Port of Cagayan de Oro.
“The proposed Port of Opol will not only modernize the existing fishing wharf for small fisherfolk, but also improve cargo transport services from industries located in the western towns of Misamis Oriental,” said Ignacio.                                

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