Legazpi Mayor Noel Rosal shows off the new integrated terminal with modern facilities for the commuters of Bicol. Inset is the old disorganized terminal of the city. LEGAZPI City, Philippines]

LEGAZPI CITY, AUGUST 22, 2009 (PHILIPPINE STAR) By Junep Ocampo -  A modern land transport terminal is expected to boost this city’s economic potential once it opens later this month.

Legazpi Mayor Noel Rosal announced this to reporters last week as he inspected The Metro Integrated Transport Terminal at the corner of Tahao and Alternate roads here which he expects to become a new landmark that will boost the business activity of Legazpi and the rest of Bicol region.

“This terminal will raise the confidence of investors in Legazpi as the prime city of Bicol,” said Rosal. He labelled the P300-million facility put up by private company LKY Group on a 25-year build-operate-and-transfer (BOT) arrangement as a “futuristic terminal” that will spur development in the whole of Bicol.

“Everyone is excited over this futuristic terminal. Even those living in far-flung barrios believe that this terminal will bring progress to them,” he said.

The new Legazpi terminal will centralize all forms of land transportation that pass through Legazpi, including buses from Manila going to the Visayas and jeepneys and filcabs (FX taxis) that bring commuters to various cities and towns of practically the whole Bicol.

Since the 3.9-hectare facility expects human traffic of more than 80,000 every day, Rosal said the commercial area now being completed to house restaurants, bars and retail stores will definitely bustle with economic activity.

This early, fastfood giant Jollibee and sister company Chowking are already finalizing their entry into the terminal. Jollibee is expected to put up its biggest store in Legazpi at the terminal. The store will be its fourth in the city.

SM Group’s Save More, meanwhile, has signified its intent to become the operator of the new terminal’s supermarket, a major development that made Rosal ecstatic. “This will be the new center of business in Legazpi,” he said.

Rosal said the new terminal aims to be operational by August 21 and the retail outlets ready for tourists by October, in time for the region’s Ibalong Festival.

The three-term mayor added that the new terminal “will beef up the perception of organized government” in Legazpi.

“Lahat ng papasok na tao, anumang klase sila, will enter and exit Legazpi through this terminal. Pagpasok pa lang nila, they will already be impressed with this facility. Masasabi nila, ‘O, talagang iba ang Legazpi.’ There will be discussion of possible investments. Malaki ang magagawa nito in showing the people what kind of governance we have in Legazpi.”

Rosal clarified that the project to modernize Legazpi’s antiquated terminal was first offered to local business groups, but it was the LKY Group, a company from Sorsogon City, which responded to the challenge.

He said because of the vision of the LKY Group, what used to be a flood-prone area populated by squatters will now become the new central business district.

“Sa maniwala kayo o sa hindi, nung una ayaw nila (local businessmen) ang lugar na ito kasi malayo raw at pangit. Pero because of what happened, ito na ang magiging sentro,” he said.

Rosal pointed to the Ibalong Center for Recreation, the only convention center in Legazpi, which he said will be restored soon. The Ibalong Center is a stone’s throw away from the new terminal.

“We already have a budget for the rehabilitation of the convention center. Once opened, this convention center will be the venue for major political, cultural and sporting events which will all complement the terminal facility specially its commercial development. This Tahao Road and Alternate Road is now the new CBD (Central Business District). Anytime now may mga papasok diyan na offices like call centers; they will be employing about 1,000. Nag-expand yung business district ng Legazpi. Hindi mo na puwedeng sabihin na this is outside the business district. Baka mahatak pa yung mga iba dun sa sentro papunta dito,” he explained.

Rosal also said that because of the new terminal, business owners from other parts of the country are now eager to invest in Legazpi City.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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