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Rehab of three Zamboanga airports completed by yearend, Surigao by 2010

Zamboanga City - Rehabilitation of the three main airports in Zamboanga Peninsula is expected to be completed at the end of the year, the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo) has said.

This city’s international airport, along with those in Dipolog City in Zamboanga del Norte and in Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur, will soon be equipped with modern facilities, MEDCo chairman Virgilio L. Leyretana, Sr., said in a phone interview late last week.

Rehabilitation of the region’s airports will provide Zamboanga Peninsula greater accessibility and connectivity with the rest of the country.

"This will enhance the movement of people and goods at reduced costs," Mr. Leyretana said.

Data from MEDCo showed the rehabilitation of the three airports will cost over P1.4 billion.

The projects involve concreting, extending and widening the airports’ existing runways and aprons; construction of new flight service stations and powerhouse buildings; construction of new administration buildings; and construction of perimeter fences.

The Pagadian City Airport, which has suspended its operation in the past three years due to a defective runway, is expected to be operational in December, Mayor Samuel S. Co claimed.

Erlinda Delos Reyes, Dipolog City Airport manager, said five of the 10 projects in her facility are now completed.

One project is ongoing while the remaining four projects are still in the preconstruction stage.

The ongoing project covers the extension of runway, construction of perimeter fence and continuation of shore protection.

"The completion of this infrastructure will significantly improve tourism in the province and will make tourist destinations more accessible," said Allan Ranillo, chairman of the Zamboanga del Norte Regional Tourism Council.

Outside of Zamboanga Peninsula airports, those in the island provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi — also in western portion of Mindanao — are expected to be fully operational next month.

The projects are partially funded by the United States-funded Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM).

The P230-million worth Jolo airport had its runway extended from 1,200 meters to about 1,845 meters, while the P200-million Sanga-Sanga (Bongao) Airport will have a 1,900-meter runway from the previous 1,600 meters, said Manuel T. Jamonir, infrastructure specialist of GEM.

Aside from the expansion and widening of the existing runways, the Sulu and Tawi-Tawi airport improvement projects include the rehabilitation of passenger terminal facilities that will be equipped with baggage conveyors and x-ray machines.

MEDCo said other airports in Mindanao that are expected to be finished within 2010 are those in the cities of Ozamiz costing P215 million; Cotabato, P327 million; Butuan, P592 million; and Surigao, P197 million. Only the P7.8-billion Laguindingan airport in Misamis Oriental will be completed beyond 2010. (Business World)

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