Competing tollway projects allowed to proceed

May 24, 2012 at 10:53

The government is allowing two proposals to connect the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) and South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) to proceed, paving the way for the construction of the elevated toll roads before year-end, a Cabinet official said.
Separate proposals of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) and San Miguel Corp.-backed Citra Metro Manila Tollways Corp. were given the green light to participate in the public-private partnership (PPP) scheme.

“We’re looking at [approval] this year, sometime in the next few months. The idea is both of the projects can be given formal awarding [and] final approval before the end of the year so that by the end of this year or early next year, they can start construction,” Ramon A. Carandang, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office secretary, said as the two companies presented their projects to the Palace yesterday.

“We don’t expect any hurdles or any major delays in the approval process,” Transportation Secretary Manuel A. Roxas II said in the same event.

MPIC proposed in 2010 a P22.95-billion “connector road” consisting of a 13.4-kilometer, four-lane elevated expressway over the Philippine National Railway line from Caloocan to Makati.

Mr. Roxas said the project will be subject to a Swiss challenge, where other parties will be allowed to match the proposal before it is approved by the board of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

Citra, meanwhile, proposed a P25.4-billion, 14-kilometer, six-lane elevated tollway parallel to the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA), with exits in Buendia, Quirino, Plaza Dilao, Aurora Boulevard, E. Rodriguez Avenue, Quezon Boulevard, Sgt. Rivera, and Balintawak.

Mr. Carandang said this proposal, as part of the four-stage, 30-kilometer Metro Manila Skyway in which Citra is the concessionaire, won’t be subjected to a Swiss challenge but would need approvals from the Toll Regulatory Board and the NEDA board.

MPIC and Citra said in their presentations they are hoping to start construction in the fourth quarter and finish their respective projects by 2016.

The tollways will supposedly help decongest EDSA and provide better access to Manila’s ports.

After the presentation, President Benigno S. C. Aquino III said that by connecting NLEx and SLEx, manufacturing in the northern and southern parts of the country would be able to deliver their goods uninterrupted and in a shorter time, which should yield savings that can be used to hire more workers.

“It [will also enhance] the connectivity between NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) and Clark (International Airport). Tourism [will be] greatly enhanced as well,” he said.

MPIC and Citra were previously locked in debate over who should be given the NLEx-SLEx connector project.

Mr. Carandang said:”The two projects can exist simultaneously. There is enough demand. There is a common alignment, but the two will eventually separate.”

Present at the meeting were MPIC Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan and San Miguel President Ramon S. Ang.

MPIC is the local unit of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., which partly owns Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT). Mediaquest Holdings, Inc., a unit of the Beneficial Trust Fund of PLDT, has a minority stake in BusinessWorld.


By Noemi M. Gonzales
Source: BusinessWorld, May 24, 2012
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