Of feasibility studies, funding sources
‘BUILD, BUILD, BUILD’
The Cebu International Container Port will be built on a 25- hectare reclaimed land in Barangay Tayud, Consolacion town with 500-meter berth length to accommodate two 2,000 TEU vessels; 4 quay cranes and superstructures (operation building, gate complex, weigh bridge, maintenance factory; and 1,450 meter inland access road and 300 meter offshore bridge.
A bypass road will traverse the city of Mandaue and the towns of Consolacion and Liloan to support the new port.
Based on the breakdown of the flagship projects as of June 2017, CICP was supposed to start in 2017 although its date of completion had not been identified.
But during the Philippine Economic Briefing in Cebu City in April, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the new international port would start in 2018.
In a speech read by Finance Undersecretary Bayani H. Agabin, Dominguez said the port project had already been approved by the (National Economic and Development Authority) Neda Board chaired by the President.
The other big projects of the administration that will have an impact on Cebu are the bridge that will connect the island to Bohol and another to Negros Island as these will allow easier access and travel to these nearby islands.
Based on the breakdown of the flagship projects posted on the Neda website, China was identified as a source of ODA funds for these two bridge projects as well as the six others that were intended to connect the Visayas islands.
Groundbreaking for the Cebu-Bohol Link Bridge as well as the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Bridge was scheduled at the last quarter of 2018.
The first quarter of 2019 was the target date for the groundbreaking of the Cebu-Negros Bridge as well as the Bohol-Leyte Bridge, Luzon-Samar Bridge and Leyte-Surigao Bridge.
No date of completion had been identified.
However, none of the eight bridge projects had completed feasibility studies.
In a phone interview with Inquirer, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said a feasibility study was being conducted by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) on the Panay-Guimaras-Negros link.
For the other bridge projects, the feasibility studies would start either within the year or next year, said Pernia, who heads Neda.
Pernia said the source of funding had not also been identified although China’s One Belt, One Road initiative was among those possible sources of funds.
The other sources would be the General Appropriations Act, other ODA (official development assistance) and Public-Private Partnership.
Pernia assured that the bridge projects would start within the administration of President Duterte but the completion would depend on the complexity of their design.
If some of the bridges would not be completed, he added the subsequent administration would be compelled to complete these.
Otherwise, he added, the people would be angry at them.
Dino, said they would try to finish these before the term of the President would end.
“But of course, I will be lying to you if I will tell you I’ll guarantee that it will be finished (during his term). But we will try our best. The technology in building is different than before,” he added.
But a former Neda assistant director in Central Visayas found the bridge projects “too good to be true.”
Perry Fajardo, now economics professor at the University of San Carlos, doesn’t believe that any of the bridge projects will start
He pointed out that none of the projects had completed a feasibility study which would usually take about a year to make, depending if there were revisions and the data was readily available.
It might also take another year or less for the Neda- ICC to review the study which includes validating the project’s computed Net Present Value or its value to society must outweigh its cost.
There is also the need to secure funding source that might take several negotiations as well to prepare the documents for bidding and the detailed engineering plan, among others, before actual implementation.
“That’s about 4 to 5 years at least but(may) be longer if there are problems along the way,” said Fajardo.
Fajardo said there is also the question on the projects’ feasibility: Are bridges better in moving people and goods compared to the existing alternative service when both operational and investment costs are considered.
“My other point is that a much cheaper alternative already exists that connects these different islands,” he said.
Fajardo said the roll off roll on (roro) services maximize the free use of seawater that separates the two points to be linked and all the government needs to do is to build ports on both sides.
While bridges are needed to connect areas separated by water, the length should be manageable, he added.
Otherwise, Fajardo said a longer bridge becomes
expensive and requires a high level of engineering works since a lot of conditions have to be considered including the depth of the waterway and the current, and its potential effect on the marine environment.
“Nothing is impossible, of course, if the country concerned is very rich but even then the economic viability of those projects still has to be established before they are done,” he added.
In the case of the Philippines, Fajardo said the already overtaxed public may be asked to again make a sacrifice by paying additional taxes to fund these projects.
But Joseph said that having bridges will give passengers and cargo owners an option that may be less expensive and more convenient for them.
He, however, suggested that the “inter-city” problems must be addressed to maximize the full potentials of the bridges.
These problems include inadequate roads, primitive traffic light systems, poor traffic management, lack of coordination in addressing traffic issues by the interconnected local government units, poor driver discipline, damaged roads, flooding, among others.
Joseph cited the case in Metro Cebu where it would take long to deliver goods anywhere in the metropolis due to traffic, among others.
Secretary Dino, however, assured that the administration was already addressing the problems of traffic in Metro Cebu.
“That is our main thrust in Cebu which will help solve traffic problem in Cebu,” he said.
And the administration is starting that through these major infrastructure projects.
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