Palace OKs P62B for big infra projects
President Benigno Aquino III has approved a whole raft of infrastructure projects worth P62.3 billion to improve the supply of water to the capital and adjacent areas, increase the capacity of mass transport systems, modernize one Manila hospital and upgrade some of the country’s airports.
However, only two of these major undertakings will even get started by the time Mr. Aquino steps down in 2016.
Among the big-ticket items are the P18.7-billion Kaliwa Dam project designed to produce 600 million liters of water a day, and a P5.8-billion project at Angat Dam to improve the transmission lines of the facility that supplies about 90 percent of the raw water requirements of Metro Manila.
Only the Light Railway Transit (LRT) 2 maintenance project in Manila and the P10.6-billion rapid bus transit project in Cebu City will have gotten off to a start by the time Mr. Aquino’s term ends in 2016.
Only 2 years left
“We are determined to speed up the implementation of these vital projects, given the fact that by the end of this month, this administration will have exactly only two years left of its term,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said at a press briefing on Friday.
The projects were green-lighted by the President and the Cabinet officials who sit on the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) board at a Palace meeting that lasted 11 hours, ending close to midnight of Thursday. Mr. Aquino chairs the Neda board.
The two water projects designed to address the long-term water supply requirements of Metro Manila and adjacent regions are the P18.7-billion Kaliwa Dam project and the P5.8-billion Angat Dam water transmission improvement project, Coloma said.
The former entails the construction of a dam that will produce 600 million liters per day and a water conveyance tunnel with a capacity of 2,400 million liters per day in anticipation of the future Laiban Dam, he said.
The project will cover portions of Tanay, Antipolo, and Teresa towns in Rizal province, and General Nakar and Infanta towns in Quezon province.
It will be implemented through the public-private partnership (PPP) program, under what Coloma called “variants of the build-lease-and-transfer scheme.” It’s expected to be completed by 2020.
The Angat project is aimed at increasing the reliability and security of the facility’s raw water transmission system by rehabilitating the existing conveyances from Ipo Dam to the La Mesa treatment plant.
To be financed by a $60-million loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the project will start this year and will be completed in four years, Coloma said.
Moving to the countryside, the President and the Neda board approved the Local Water Utilities Administration’s (LWUA) project to rehabilitate and expand its distribution networks, develop the raw water supply and sustain its operations.
With a $60-million (P2.7 billion) loan from the ADB, the LWUA is seeking to upgrade 60 local water districts across the country, including Koronadal City, San Fernando City in Pampanga province and Bulacan province.
Also approved was a project to double the impounding capacity of Malinao Dam in earthquake-stricken Bohol province to sufficiently irrigate “unserved” and “underserved” areas at a cost of P653 million, Coloma said.
The upgrade will be carried out between now and 2016 using funds from the budget of the National Irrigation Administration.
The Neda board also approved the bidding out of the P16.5-billion LRT 2 new operations and maintenance concession contract under the PPP scheme, Coloma said.
The project seeks to raise the operating efficiency of the
LRT 2 fleet from the present 67 percent to 95 percent, he said.
The government has set the submission of bids for October this year.
The P10.6-billion bus rapid transit project in Cebu City, which is expected to deliver “fast, comfortable and cost-effective mobility” on a segregated right-of-way infrastructure, was also approved.
Funded by loans from Agence Française de Développement and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development-World Bank, the project will be completed by 2017.
The board also approved the P4.1-billion upgrade of the Busuanga airport in Palawan province from a turbo-prop to a jet-capable airport by realigning its runway and modernizing its facilities. This is to be implemented between 2015 and 2017 and is to be funded from the national budget.
“This is expected to boost tourism growth even further, given the 47-percent average annual growth in passenger traffic in Busuanga and Coron, Palawan,” Coloma said.
Elsewhere in northern Luzon, the board gave the go-signal for the Department of Public Works and Highways’ P1.18-billion Laoag Bypass Link Road Project that will entail the construction of an airport road link to provide easier access to the Laoag City international airport and the Currimao port. This is expected to be completed by next year and is to be funded from the national budget.
Lastly, the Department of Health got the nod to expand Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, the country’s largest maternity care and birthing facility, from a 447-bed capacity to a modern 800-bed hospital at a cost of P2 billion. The project, also to be funded from the national budget, is targeted for completion in two years.
The idea is to meet the country’s Millennium Development Goal of reducing the rate of infant and maternal mortality, Coloma said.
The board also approved the master plan for the Clark Green City project of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority. It entails institutional, mixed-use and industrial development of a sprawling property covering Tarlac City and Bamban in Tarlac province. No budget was mentioned.
“The recent groundbreaking of the proposed University of the Philippines campus in Clark is part of this initial implementation phase,” Coloma said.