One of the leading players in the construction industry in Region 8, the Chua Group of Companies, recently inaugurated a new ship repair and shipbuilding facility in Albuera, Leyte. The 3,000 DWT capacity shipyard with port facility of Megaship Builders, Inc. (MBI) was partially financed by the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).
During the inauguration ceremony, Engr. Francis Lloyd T. Chua, president of Megaship Builders, Inc., said the new shipyard is the first in the Visayas to use marine airbag technology. It has the capacity to simultaneously repair three to five vessels with 2,500-3,000 gross tons in size. The facility can repair more than 40 vessels per year excluding new vessels for construction.
Since Albuera is only 111 kilometers away from Cebu City, shipping operators based in Cebu and nearby areas will not have to go far for the dry docking of their fleet. MBI’s primary target market includes shipping companies that are based in the neighbouring island of Tacloban, Cebu, and Bohol. There are about 25 operational ports in these islands where ships and boats from the Northern and Southern regions mostly dock, deliver, load, and upload their cargo or passengers.
The first two customers that entered into a shipbuilding contract with MBI for the construction of steel-hulled cargo passenger LCT are Camotes Ferry Services, and Banton Liner Transport Services. Chua anticipates that more operators of wooden-hulled vessels will avail of their services as they are forced to modernize their fleet in consonance with the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) Circular on the progressive/ gradual phase out of wooden-hulled ships in domestic trade.
Engr. Manuel A. Chua, chairman of the Chua Group, said that establishing the shipyard facility was first borne out of the need for the regular repair and maintenance of their own fleet of vessels hauling aggregates for their construction business. He added that after years of availing of the services of Cebu-based shipyards for the regular dry docking of their vessels, which takes at least three months before they are serviced, they saw the opportunity to help the industry and decided to put up their own shipyard facility. Based on MARINA’s latest data, the ratio of shipyard to number of vessels is 40 vessels to 1 shipyard.
In his message during the inauguration ceremony, DBP senior assistant vice president Raymond Valdez emphasized that the bank supports the vision of MARINA to transform the Philippines into a shipbuilding hub in Asia by continually expanding DBP financing for transport infrastructure and logistics facilities. He emphasized that such projects are high on DBP’s priority thrusts as it is a way forward to economic development. Being a country composed of thousands of islands, the Philippines requires efficient and modern transport infrastructure and logistics facilities to accelerate and sustain socio-economic growth, improve global competitiveness, and promote physical integration. To address the financing requirement for such capital-intensive projects, DBP offers special long-term credit facilities with significant advantages that may not be found in other financing vehicles, ie. a fixed interest rate for the duration of the loan, and a longest payment term of 15 years. MBI is one of the beneficiaries of this special lending program.