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BOC revives plan to transform Port of San Fernando

MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is reviving plans to transform the Port of San Fernando in La Union into a major regional hub for cargoes, its top official said yesterday.

Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez said that by the end of the month, there is a scheduled maiden voyage of a containerized vessel to the Port of San Fernando.

In the early 90s, BOC officials planned to introduce a container system in the Port of San Fernando for big companies such as Bacnotan Cement, San Miguel Corp. and Philipps Mining.

However, the plan was shelved when proponents could not find funding sources  to upgrade the structural foundation of the port piers which could only support  bulk and break bulk shipments but not those in container vans.

Alvarez said the structural limitations may be addressed through the use of a mother vessel to collect all Region 1 –bound containerized shipments from the Port of Manila and then have these transshipped to San Fernando with the help of smaller containerized feeder vessels.

Furthermore, Alvarez said smaller vessels would naturally require smaller equipment to conduct loading and discharging operations.

To jumpstart the maiden voyage, the Poro Point Industrial Corp., the company that has a 25-year contract as exclusive cargo handler at the pier, has offered a  reduced port-related fees, a wide container yard to accommodate 1000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) at any given day, a provision for reefer containers,   dangerous cargo area and other cargo trucks.

The Poro Point Management Corp., the management arm of the Bases  Conversion Development Authority for the Poro Point Free Port Zone, for its  part offered a secured adjacent lot as holding area and BOC examination area.

With these developments, Alvarez said the region is expected to attract investors  and create more opportunities for enhanced job creation.

Locators at the Poro Point Freeport like the Thunderbird Pilipinas Resorts &  Hotel and Casino, LATIMCO and the Mama Sita Corp. are expected to benefit from the new system.

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