THE construction of the P10-billion New Cebu International Container Port is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2021, the Transportation department said.

“On the procurement for civil works, we are pushing it to commence this August. Original schedule is September,” Transportation Assistant Secretary for Procurement and Project Implementation Giovanni Z. Lopez said in a phone message on Sunday.

“The start of construction, as per timeline, will be in the first quarter of 2021, but I’m pushing it to be in January 2021,” he added.

He said the duration of the construction is 35 months.

The project, according to the Finance department, has an estimated overall cost of P10.1 billion.

In 2018, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III signed a $172.64-million loan agreement with South Korea’s Export Import Bank of Korea for the construction of the new container port in Consolacion, Cebu.

The government will provide P1.4 billion or $26.09 million for the new Cebu port project, which “aims to free up the existing seaport in the province and provide a more efficient and reliable transport infrastructure for the unimpeded flow of goods and services in the Visayas,” the Finance department said in a statement posted on its website.

“It will include a berthing facility with a 500-meter quay wall length that can simultaneously accommodate two 2,000 TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit) vessels; operating facilities and structures for containers such as a freight station and inspection shed; an access road and bridge; and a dredged waterway and turning basin,” the department added.

It said the loan has a preferential interest rate of 0.15% per year for non-consulting services and 0% for consulting services. It has a maturity period of 40 years inclusive of a 10-year grace period.

On March 9, the Transportation department signed a consulting services contract with the joint venture of South Korea’s Yooshin Engineering Corp., Sekwang Engineering Consultants Co. Ltd., and Korea Engineering Consultants Corp. in association with SVTI.

Under the contract, the consulting services will be financed out of the proceeds of the loan which should not exceed $5.44 million.

Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade issued a notice to proceed for the implementation of the contract on May 29, directing the joint venture to commence works within 30 days of receipt. — Arjay L. Balinbin