With the near-completion of the Laguindingan International Airport (LIA) and with the Mindanao Railway System (MRS) already in the drawing boards, business and trade are expected to increase in this part of Mindanao, which is why a Mindanawon congressman yesterday urged the government to draw up a comprehensive master plan for the revitalized Cagayan-Iligan Industrial Corridor (CIIC).
“If we really want investors to pour in their millions and even billions of pesos in the CIIC, then we have to start developing a comprehensive master plan for it,” said Rep. Ariel Caringal Hernandez of Anak Mindanao party-list.
Noting that the international airport in nearby Laguindingan town is targeted to open on January 17, 2012, and the Saudi Fund for Development’s expression of willingness to fund the MRS, Hernandez said that this will be best complemented? by a comprehensive master plan for the CIIC.
“The completion and opening of the airport in the municipality of Laguindingan will open the doors for investors and tourists to our shores. Thus, there is a great need to come up with a comprehensive master plan for the CIIC to really entice investors to establish their businesses here,” Hernandez said.?
The CIIC, which lies within the provinces of Lanao del Norte and Misamis Oriental and within the regions of Northern Mindanao and Soccsksargen, is a 187-kilometer stretch of mainly coastal strip facing the bays of Iligan and Macajalar and has a total land area of 3,227 square km.
The MRS is made up of a network of railways linking Cagayan de Oro City to Iligan City up to
Zamboanga City, and to the Agusan and Surigao provinces. It also has extensions to the cities of Davao and General Santos.
Construction of the first phase of the MRS project covering the Cagayan de Oro-Iligan stretch is being prioritized because it is an industrial and economic corridor.
Rep.Rufus Rodriguez, who filed House Bill 1855 in 2008 creating the Mindanao Railways Corp., said the MRS “will not only solve traffic congestion in the city [of Cagayan de Oro], especially with the opening of the LIA and other urban centers of Mindanao, but will also boost tourism and business along its route. This will be a more efficient, cost-effective and fast mode of transportation linking all major cities and towns of Mindanao.”
The MRS will pass through the CIIC, which covers 19 municipalities: Claveria, Jasaan, Villanueva, Tagoloan, Opol, El Salvador, Alubijid, Laguindingan, Gitagum, Libertad, Initao, Naawan, Manticao and Lugait of Misamis Oriental; and Linamon, Kauswagan, Bacolod, Maigo and Kolambugan of Lanao del Norte.
The CIIC has been designed as a major industrial, processing and trade zone, with the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro as centers.
It is also considered as one of the investment destinations in Mindanao, with the following development roles: transshipment hub of Mindanao due to its proximity to domestic markets such as Cebu and Manila with the safest and shortest sea route; one of the major agri-industrial centers in Mindanao; trade and services center in Northern Mindanao; and power provider in Mindanao by harnessing the power of Maria Cristina Falls.
With these roles, the CIIC is an ideal location for investments in metals (engineering and metal works); construction and infrastructure; oleo chemicals and other basic chemicals; and agriculture, aquaculture and agro-forestry.
Hernandez noted that while the CIIC has been touted as one of the investment destinations in Mindanao for more than a decade now, it has not really taken off and very few investors have actually established their businesses in the area because of the lack of a comprehensive master plan.
“The CIIC, despite its considerable potential for being the investment hub in Mindanao, has very limited growth in the past decade because of a lack of a master development plan. As such, an integrated comprehensive master plan or program aimed specifically at maximizing its fourfold roles is badly needed and should be drawn up as soon as possible, especially so that we can present this to the incoming president,” he said.
Written by Bong D. Fabe / Correspondent – Business Mirror