GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- Development works have shifted to high gear for the P434 million expansion and rehabilitation of the city international airport’s passenger terminal building to meet its targeted completion in two years.

Engr. Ginalyn Cachuela, manager of the Soccsksargen Area Development Project Office, said the demolition and clearing works are ongoing in portions of the airport’s terminal building as part of the initial construction phase.

She said the preparatory works started last April following the release of the notice to proceed with the project’s construction by the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

DOTr and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) had awarded the project’s contract to joint venture firms Vicente T. Lao Construction and C.B. Garay Philwide Builders Inc.

“This is a two-year project and we expect its completion by April 2019,” Cachuela said in a presentation at the city council’s regular session on Tuesday.

She said the project includes the expansion of the terminal building’s arrival and pre-departure area and the improvement of basic facilities.

When completed, she said the existing terminal building would expand to around 12,000 square meters.

Aside from the terminal building project, Cachuela said the clearing and stripping works are also ongoing for the expansion of the airport’s apron space, drainage and storm drains.

She said the DOTr has allotted around P54.3 million for the project, which is being undertaken by the Premium Megastructures Inc.

The official said the two projects are part of the nearly P1 billion funding approved by the DOTr in 2015 for the upgrading and improvement of the city airport.

She said the other component projects are the upgrading of the airport’s water supply facilities worth P100 million, upgrading of navigational aids worth P137 million, and construction of various support facilities worth P294 million.

These are the upgrading of the airport’s power supply facilities, construction of a power house, installation of precision approach lighting system, construction of its administrative building, repair and improvement of the control tower, construction of a satellite fire station with access road, and the construction of a sewerage treatment plant.

Cachuela said CAAP is currently working on the detailed engineering design of these projects.

“But the funds are already available and ready to be downloaded to CAAP from the DOTr,” she said.

The city airport, which is classified by CAAP as an alternate international airport, has not undergone any major repair since it opened in 1996.

It mainly serves the air transport requirements of the greater part of Region 12 or Soccsksargen, which comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato, and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

The city is considered as the region’s airline hub and has seen a surge in traffic following the entry of budget airfares here several years ago.

In 2016, the airport’s passenger traffic reached 838,941, which was up by 29.40 percent from the previous year’s record of 592,911.

The airport’s passenger traffic is projected to reach around 1.5 million by 2020.(AVE/PNA)