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SMC unveils EDSA speedway

SMC is targeting to complete the project in two to three years, adding that the proposed toll will not be more than P200.

Angelica Ballesteros

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Progress duo Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and San Miguel Corp. president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang map out their strategy to ease the flow of traffic in Metro Manila while providing an alternative gateway for Filipinos and visitors. YUMMIE DINGDING

CLARK, Pampanga — Conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) after sealing the deal for an alternate to the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is now setting its sight on solving the daily traffic horror on EDSA through a plan to put up an elevated steel toll road.

The Asian conglomerate is set to submit next week an unsolicited proposal to build the EDSA freeway, SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang told reporters at the sidelines of the contract signing for the P735 billion Bulacan airport.

The road project is targeted to be completed ahead of the start of the New Manila International Airport project in Bulacan, Bulacan, according to the SMC head.

Ang said the proposal will run from Samson Road in Caloocan City up to Macapagal Avenue in Pasay City and will feature five lanes each for northbound and southbound directions.

“We will be submitting that to the DoTr (Department of Transportation) maybe on Monday or Tuesday, during which we will give you complete information,” he added.

Ang said SMC is targeting to complete the project in two to three years, adding that the proposed toll will not be more than P200.

Plan for bus depot also up

DoTr Undersecretary for Planning Ruben Reinoso told reporters the elevated toll road will ease travel to the proposed new airport.

Apart from the elevated EDSA road project, the SMC group also submitted in June this year a P10 billion proposal to construct a bus-and-foot terminal in Pandacan, Manila to address the problem of a common hub for provincial buses to decongest EDSA.

The new terminal will be built within the old Pandacan depot of Petron Corp., which relocated to Cavite, Navotas, Harbour Center and Limay, Bataan.

The depot used to house the fuel storage facilities of major oil firms Petron, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. and Chevron Philippines Inc.

Ang said that once constructed, the terminal is expected to accommodate 5,000 provincial buses a day.

Concession inked

The DoTr gave SMC the green light to commence construction of the Bulacan airport.

Tugade announced the issuance of the Notice to Proceed after he and Ang signed the concession agreement.

The agreement formally granted San Miguel Aerocity Inc., a company wholly owned by San Miguel Holdings Corporation (SMHC), the task of handling the financing, design, construction, operations and maintenance of the airport. The concession period spans 50 years after the completion of construction of the first phase.

The Transportation chief emphasized that the construction of the new international gateway will boost connectivity and mobility for Filipinos, as this shall give them additional travel options.

“The priority there are the Filipino passengers, the riding public. When the Bulacan Airport is operational, it will be a battle of commercial competitiveness among major airports. And if it becomes a battle of commercial competitiveness, who benefits? It is the riding public, because the riding public will be given a freedom of choice,” Tugade explained.

“It’s all about comfort. It’s all about convenience. It’s all about putting life to the President’s wish and desire for a comfortable life for Filipinos,” he noted.

During the signing ceremony, the DoTr head also lauded SMC for ensuring that issues on right-of-way acquisition, Material Adverse Government Action or situations where the government deviates from contractual obligation that requires it to compensate a private entity, and subsidy were expeditiously resolved.

Growth propeller

For his part, Ang touted the economic boost the new airport will bring, especially to Central Luzon.

“This will really benefit our people and it will create a lot of business opportunities for Filipinos. It will bring so many foreign tourists,” Ang said.

The SMC top honcho also averred the conducive conditions for business with government under the Duterte administration.

“I have a lot of experience in dealing with government officials for the past 30 years. What is important in a government official is sincerity and his capacity for hard work. In this administration, these are common traits,” he added.

The DoTr formally issued SMHC the Notice of Award on 14 August 2019, two weeks after the conclusion of the Swiss challenge where SMHC’s unsolicited proposal went uncontested.

The Bulacan International Airport is envisioned to help decongest the NAIA and complement the operations of Clark International Airport, in order to serve the current and anticipated rapid growth in aviation traffic demand in the Greater Capital Region.

The new gateway will have four parallel runways for faster turnover of aircraft, eight taxiways, a Passenger Terminal Building with a design capacity of 100 million to 200 million passengers per year, and airfield facilities and equipment.

With Elmer N. Manuel

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