Monday, 30 May 2011

French contractor may sue Aquino govt

Manila Times

A FRENCH contractor signed up by the previous administration for its roll-on roll-off (RORO) ports project has threatened to sue the Aquino government for contractual violations.

“We will go to international arbitration” if the Philippine government cancel its P11.8 billion contract to establish 72 modular RORO ports nationwide, Patrick Azanza, senior adviser to the Eiffel-Matiere Consortium told reporters.

One of the two consortium member-companies, Eiffel, is a French government owned corporation and contractor for the Eiffel Tower in Paris and for various oil rig/platforms around the world.

Azanza said Eiffel-Matiere may file cases in Geneva and in the US.

He said Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Undersecretary Ruben Reinoso informed the consortium that the review committee has endorsed to President Benigno Aquino 3rd the cancellation of the Greater Maritime Access (GMA) Ports Project.

The committee report was prepared by DOTC, Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and Maritime Industry Authority.

The review came on the heels of a report made by PPA that the project was overpriced.

Azanza said the company has yet to receive a copy of the report, but insists the P83 million cost per modular port is cheaper than the P400 million traditional port of PPA.

The project would use prefabricated steel ports composed of five interdependent modular parts, such as pier or causeway connecting to shore, mooring platform, manual ramp dolphin, and passenger terminal with solar power utilities.

“We would want the President to make a decision that is good for the country. We want the government to honor our contract. We hope he will consider the project,” Azanza said.
He said the consortium is amenable to an amendment of the contract.

“We are flexible, in fact we are saying that the government may use part of the loan to other projects like bridges,” Azanza said.

He said the loan from BNP Paribas has been effective since 2009.

Azanza said the supply contract was signed by then PPA general manager Oscar Sevilla, as well as by representatives of the DOTC, the Departments of Finance, and of Budget and Management, and the Bureau of Treasury.

The loan agreement was also approved by the Monetary Board.

In 2003, the government of then President Gloria Arroyo issued a policy to promote RORO, a system designed to carry rolling stock cargo that does not require cranes for loading or unloading.

The Strong Republic Nautical Highway was one of Mrs. Arroyo’s priority programs to ensure fast and economical movement of goods and people, and to boost domestic tourism and trade. The project called for a RORO port system to lin the country’s islands.

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