Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Subic investor to pay for relocation of squatters

Ronnel W. Domingo - Inquirer

A SOUTH KOREAN shipbuilder putting up a $1-billion facility in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, northwest of Manila, is picking up the tab of relocating informal settlers from the project site to hasten the start of its operation, a Subic official said.

Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd. Will pay for the cost of moving 300 households to an area not too far from the Redondo peninsula where the shipyard will be built, said Armand Arreza, chief executive of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

"But since the agreed relocation site is not yet ready, the company will build temporary accommodation for the families," Arreza said.

The company has already paid for new school buildings that will replace an elementary school and a high school in the area, he said.

He said Hanjin was taking the initiative on its own and had signed a relocation agreement late last February.

He did not say how much Hanjin had allotted for the relocation.

He said most of the squatters were amenable to the arrangement with Hanjin, although about 10 or 12 families were "resistant."

Hanjin has also committed to take into its workforce at least one household member of the squatter families, Arreza said.

The company is expected to employ 6,000 people at its shipyard, he said.

"Hanjin needs to start developing the shipyard and raise a workforce," Arreza said. "I learned that it already has orders for four vessels from a client in France."

It has earmarked P1 billion for training and human resources development, including P50-P100 million for training welders, for which it is working with the government's Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, he said.

In an earlier interview, Arreza said the Hanjin shipyard would be the fourth-largest in the world and would have capacity to handle big vessels that can accommodate 8,000 twenty-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, a TEU being a 20-foot dry-cargo container.

The shipyard will take five years to build. With INQ7.net


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