DOTr eyes infra projects in quake-hit Batanes

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 31 2019 04:49 PM

MANILA—The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Saturday announced plans for "transport-related developments" in Batanes more than a month after a consecutive earthquakes of varying magnitudes hit the island.

In a series of tweets, the DOTr said Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade met with Batanes Rep. Ciriaco Gato Jr. Friday to discuss further developments of existing airports and sea ports.

"Secretary Tugade cited the government's plan to develop and expand the Itbayat Airport to become the city's main commercial airport. A runway extension for the Basco Airport is being considered as well . . . Improvements for the ports of Balanga and Itbayat were also discussed," the office said.

Local officials lamented the difficulty of transporting construction materials from Manila to the country's northernmost town by boat, as small aircraft cannot land on the island.

According to the department, "Secretary Tugade also committed to install 13 lighthouses on 10 islands in Batanes, which are expected to beef up communications capability at sea as well as maritime security in the province"

Aside from the infrastructure, DOTr undersecretary for road transport and infrastructure Mark de Leon said he will push for the provision of machines to print driver's license cards in Basco to address concerns on issuance.

On July 27, 3 strong tremors with magnitudes ranging between 3.2 and 5.9 toppled the island's treasured limestone houses and the belfry of a centuries-old parish, tore deep cracks in the road and forced the evacuation of a hospital.
 
Authorities said some of the 9 dead, including 2 babies under a year old, were crushed by the walls of their own homes.
 
Batanes is pounded every year by tropical cyclones and homes are built of stone to survive those, but not tremors.