Villar: Feasibility study on P3B bridge project to be done in 1st quarter of 2018
Construction work on the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) project, the third bridge connecting Mactan Island to mainland Cebu, has yet to start, but plans are already underway for a fourth bridge to connect these two islands.
Results of a feasibility study being conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for this fourth Mandaue-Mactan bridge are expected within the first quarter of this year, according to Public Works Secretary Mark Villar.
“It will be the fourth bridge. JICA kasi gumawa ng first two bridges ng Cebu (It was JICA that built the first two bridges of Cebu), so we are all interested to do a fourth one,” Villar told reporters at the sidelines of yesterday’s 4th Philippine-Japan High-Level Committee on Infrastructure and Economic Cooperation meeting at Shangri-La Mactan.
“First of all, the fourth bridge will help traffic problems in Cebu. But we are planning to have provisions for rails on the bridge so it will be consistent with the mass transit program of Cebu,” he added.
Villar said they pegged the bridge to cost P3 billion. And just like the first Mandaue-Mactan bridge and the Marcelo Fernan bridge, the fourth bridge will be funded, constructed, operated and maintained by the government.
The P22.6 billion CCLEX, which is expected to start construction this year, is a public-private partnership between the Manuel Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. and the local government units of Cebu City and Cordova.
Asked for details as to the specific approaches of the fourth bridge, Villar refused to disclose saying he does not want to preempt the results of the feasibility study.
He said though that they already have an idea as to where it will be.
According to Villar though, the fourth bridge will “most likely” be able to accommodate rail for mass transit systems.
BRT AND LRT
The feasibility study of the fourth Mandaue-Mactan bridge is part of the commitments of the Japanese government to the Philippine government under their bilateral agreements.
In a press conference after yesterday’s meeting, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, head of the Philippine delegation, shared that another commitment of the Japanese government is the formulation of a master plan for the urban development of Metro Cebu.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said that included in this master plan is the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project which is already at the “advance” stage of implementation as well as the fourth Mandaue-Mactan bridge.
“The master plan has not really been completed yet so there will be more items included in that master plan, having to do with urban development and a possible smart city in the further future,” Pernia said.
Debates have been ongoing in Cebu over the implementation of the BRT project or a Light Rail Transit (LRT) system instead which is being pushed by Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said though that the national government is still looking into and studying the issue between the BRT and the LRT.
“Pinag-aaralan pa ang detalye nyan (The details of that are still being studied). Will it be LRT or BRT? Will there be alignments here and there? That will still have to be finalized,” he said.
When sought for comment on this, Rafael Yap, BRT Implementation Office head, said they have not stopped with the implementation of the BRT project, and that they have not received any official directive to stop the project.
Yap said they are already finalizing procurement documents for the construction of the project.
They target to have the actual procurement within this year so that actual construction can start within the latter part of this year, or by early 2019.
‘Fast and sure’
Yesterday’s 4th PH-Japan High-Level meeting was focused on discussions on the progress of the Duterte administration’s flagship infrastructure projects which Japan has committed to help finance through loans.
Dominguez reported that both governments have committed to the “fast and sure” implementation of the administration’s flagship infrastructure projects.
“I am convinced that, through our regular meetings, both our governments are prompted to deliver on our commitments and are encouraged to think of more innovative measures to improve our cooperation,” he said during the opening of the meeting.
Dominguez and Pernia headed the Philippine delegation, which also includes key members of the government like Villar and Tugade of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr), respectively.
On the other hand, the Japanese delegation was headed by Dr. Hiroto Izumi, the special advisor to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
In his opening statement, Izumi assured Japan’s intention to contribute to the development of the Philippines.
“We are pleased to provide fast, fast, fast (implementation) and share cooperation by making use of our high quality infrastructure, including loans and expertise sharing,” he said.
Prime Minister Abe earlier pledged to contribute one trillion yen ($9 billion) to the Philippines in the form of official development assistance (ODA) and investments for the next five years.
During the meeting, they discussed the flagship projects proposed for Japan ODA funding; the project processing and implementation timetables; the proposed concrete actions to address bottlenecks; the Marawi reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts; and the proposed sectoral cooperation.
The delegations also signed three documents — (1) the record of discussions of the meeting; (2) the memorandum of cooperation among the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport and Urban Development (JOIN), and Surbana Jurong for the “New Clark City;” and (3) the memorandum of cooperation between the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and Japan Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications for the “Technical Assistance for the National Broadband Plan.”
Among the specific projects to be funded by the Japan government is the phase 1 of the Metro Manila Subway Project. Signing of the first tranche of the loan is expected to be done by March 2018 while the partial operability of the subway project is targeted by 2022.
Dominguez said they also look forward to the signing of the Exchange of Notes for the grant financing for the Davao City Waste-to-Energy project, as well as the loan financing packages for the Pasig-Marikina Channel Improvement project Phase IV, and the MRT-3 Rehabilitation and Improvement Project.
Other projects include the PNR North 2 (Malolos-Clark) and PNR South Commuter (Manila-Los Baños) railway lines which are also expected to start partial operations by 2022.