Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Gov’t to build beaching ramp on Pag-asa island


MANILA, Philippines—The government plans to build a beaching ramp on the Pag-asa Island in the contested Spratlys in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Mayor Eugenio Biton-onon of the municipality of Kalayaan in Palawan, which has jurisdiction over the Pag-asa and other claimed islets in the Spratlys, said the ramp would be constructed by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) with the help of the Philippine Navy.
According to the mayor, the beaching ramp will greatly help their community since this will allow “ro-ro” (roll-on roll-off) ships to beach and unload their cargo directly to the island’s shore.
Currently, people and supplies brought in by ships have to be transferred to small bancas while at sea since the ships can not come to shore.
Since these bancas can not beach, the residents again have to haul the supplies and wade in water for several meters to bring the supplies to the shore.
Biton-onon would not say how much the construction would cost and also did not give other specifics.
But he said the beaching ramp would be finished within the year.
Biton-onon said the project should not stoke any diplomatic tension, insisting the ramp would only provide the island’s residents with some convenience in transportation.
He said they might ask the PPA afterwards to construct a modern port on the island.
The Pag-asa Island is the biggest of the group islands and islets claimed by the Philippines (collectively referred to as the Kalayaan group of islands) in the oil-rich Spartlys chain of islands.
The Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei claim portions of the Spratlys while China claims the entire area.
Pag-asa island has an airstrip which, according to authorities, badly needs rehabilitation.
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