The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has given potential bidders an extended deadline to prepare offers for the Davao Sasa Port modernisation project.

DOCT revealed that the submission date for bids on the Aquino administration’s first seaport public-private partnership (PPP) deal has been moved to 26 February 2016.

This is the second time the deadline has been moved, having previously been pushed back to 11 January 2016 from December this year.

“It has been extended to give prequalified bidders more time to conduct technical, financial and legal due diligence,” explained the DOCT.

The PPP deal will include the new apron, linear quay, expansion of the back-up area, container yards and warehouses.

As well as the installation of new equipment such as ship-to-shore cranes and rubber-tired gantry over the pre-agreed concession period.

“Once the first phases of the project are completed in 2018, the Sasa Port will be comparable to the country’s top ports in terms of speed and quality of service, cutting down cargo unloading from three days to three hours by using modern ship-to-shore cranes and port operating systems,” said the DOCT.

The private partner will finance the construction and modernisation of the original port as well as being responsible for the operating and maintaining of the port for 30 years.

“Without the added capacity of a modernized Sasa Port, there will be a strong chance of shortage in port capacity in Davao Bay which may affect small-medium banana growers who may not be able to export their bananas,” the DOTC concluded.

Five groups were qualified to submit offers for the project, but it is facing opposition from Davao-based port operators which are concerned it will affect their individual business.