MANILA, Philippines–The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and other key government agencies are mapping out priority infrastructure projects over the next 18 months, or until President Aquino steps down, to help solve congestion bottlenecks that could hobble further growth.
Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya said the initiative, led by the National Economic and Development Authority, was aimed at improving connectivity, access and transportation “even beyond this administration.”
“Basically, the direction is that we need to come up with our final push for the last 18 months [of this administration’s term],” Abaya told reporters in a recent interview.
He said the key projects include a $10-billion new international airport that would serve Metro Manila, a new railway and road projects. The new airport, which will likely be located in Sangley Point, should be finished by 2025.
Abaya clarified that it was the DOTC’s intention to at least start reclamation works for the new airport, which was aimed at replacing the busy Ninoy Aquino International Airport, by the time President Aquino steps down in 2016.
“These will be key strategic game changing infrastructure projects. Hopefully, these will solve the headaches, woes and congestion of today and hopefully something that the next administration will continue,” Abaya said.
He said many of the projects would be based on a so-called infrastructure dream plan submitted earlier by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which was ready to finance some of these big-ticket items.
“That [dream plan] will be the base template,” said Abaya, adding that he believed Jica and the Philippine government had identified “enough” projects in the pipeline.
The P2.6-trillion Jica proposal is composed of massive railway, road, airport and seaport projects that would solve costly congestion issues in Metro Manila by 2030.
To prove its point, Jica highlighted the high cost associated with traffic, amounting to P2.4 billion daily. That figure would balloon to P6 billion per day in 2030 if the government fails to intervene, the agency said.
“If nothing is done, the situation in 2030 will become a nightmare. All roads will be saturated. Negative impact on economic, social and environmental aspects will be so large deterring the function and livability of Metro Manila,” a part of Jica’s roadmap, presented with the National Economic and Development Authority, showed.
As an immediate solution, Jica said about P520 billion should be spent between 2014 and 2016. The figure covers P164.7 billion for new expressways, including a proposed Calamba- Los Baños tollroad, and P178.8 billion for new railways, like the proposed Mega Manila subway study.
Airports were also a crucial part of the plan, as a study was ongoing for a massive $10-billion international airport in Sangley Point, Cavite.
Jica also noted that the dream plan’s economic benefits justified its massive cost, as savings from vehicle operating costs and travel time were expected to reach P4 billion per day, or P1.2 trillion per year, for Mega Manila.