The fire that gutted a plastic warehouse in Pandacan last weekend was extremely unfortunate. This was due to the fact that a crucial infrastructure project of the government, the Skyway Stage 3, collapsed during the incident. However, this is not the only ‘Build, Build, Build’ update for 2020.
Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar recently held a press conference for updates on the status of several projects under the government’s landmark infrastructure program. DPWH, the lead agency behind ‘Build, Build, Build’, has accomplished a lot despite just being halfway through the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.
In a press conference, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said that it is the first time in 50 years that the infrastructure investment of the Philippines went past 5% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Andanar explained that Infrastructure Development has one of the biggest multiplier effects to the economy. He added that the past four administrations only averaged 2.4%.
It’s impressive how much the DPWH has accomplished in 3 years. A total of more ₱2-trillion has been disbursed by the government for infrastructure projects since 2016. This is unprecedented in the history of the Philippines.
When it comes to results, the numbers are equally impressive:
- 6,022 flood control structures built
- 14,670 KM of roads constructed, maintained, upgraded, and rehabilitated
- 4,507 bridges constructed, widened, upgraded, rehabilitated and strengthened
- 129,479 classrooms constructed
- 114 evacuation centers constructed
- 64 airport projects (modernization, rehabilitation)
Decongesting the Capital
A big part of ‘Build, Build, Build’ are efforts of the DPWH to decongest EDSA. It’s true that the Skyway Stage 3 is one of the main developments for this effort, as it is expected to relieve as much as 100,000+ cars from EDSA. Once operational, this will cut travel time from Buendia to Balintawak from over 2 hours to just 15 – 20 minutes. However, this is not the only development involving EDSA.
According to the DPWH, a total of 13 roads and expressways and 10 bridges will be constructed and rehabilitated in Metro Manila just for the EDSA Decongestion Program. This aims to provide alternative linkages between several major thoroughfares in the metro. In addition, this will also increase the number of usable roadways that will also decongest traffic in other major roads.
A slight but manageable delay
Secretary Villar explained that the Skyway Project was 80% complete at the time of the fire. It was originally slated to open by April. However, Villar explained that the damaged portion needs to be reconstructed. This will delay the opening by at least 3 months to July of this year. Despite this, Villar said that they will make certain that EDSA will be decongested within President Duterte’s term.
In relation to this, San Miguel Corporation (SMC), who is in charge of the Skyway Stage 3 construction, vows to work round-the-clock to mitigate the delay that last weekend’s fire caused the project.
“We are saddened by this unfortunate incident mainly because it will delay a vital infrastructure project that would have alleviated traffic woes of our motorists sooner. But rest assured, we will work 24/7 to endeavor to complete the entire project in five months. This is just a three-month delay from the original opening target,” said Ramon Ang, President of SMC, in a statement.
A Nationwide Focus
Secretary Villar reported not just on Metro Manila infrastructure projects. In fact, much of his ‘Build, Build, Build’ update focused on projects outside the capital.
He presented updates on several big-ticket projects related to flood mitigation and disaster prevention. This included the completed Flood Risk Management Project for Tagoloan River in Misamis Oriental, and several ongoing projects in Pampanga Bay and the Cavite Industrial Area.
In addition, he also boasted of several road projects throughout the country:
- TPLEX extension – Rosario Exit now open; extension up to San Fernando, La Union started
- Central Luzon Link Expressway (CLEX) – connects Tarlac to Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija
- Arterial By-pass Road in Plaridel, Bulacan
- Quezon – Bicol Expressway (QuBex) – connects Tayabas, Quezon to San Fernando, Camarines Sur; feasibility study done
- Camarines Sur Expressway – civil works ongoing
- Metro Cebu Expressway – cuts travel time from Naga City to Danao City from 3 hours to just 1 hour and 10 minutes
- Cagayan De Oro Coastal Road – completed
- Davao City Coastal Road – ongoing
- Davao City By-pass – ongoing
Bringing Development Throughout the Islands
Aside from roads, Secretary Villar also showcased several inter-island bridges under the ‘Build, Build, Build’ Program. These will eventually connect several major islands of the Philippines, making land travel possible.
These include the following:
- Bataan – Cavite Interlink Bridge
- Panay – Guimaras – Negros Bridge
- Panglao – Tagbilaran Offshore Bridge
- Cebu – Mactan Bridge
- Salam Island – Davao City Connector Bridge
- Panguil Bay Bridge
The ‘Build, Build, Build’ Program also includes projects that aim to provide infrastructure support to Mindanao Peace and Development efforts. This involves 7 road subprojects in the Zamboanga Peninsula and 3 bridges in Tawi Tawi. Stage 2 of the reconstruction and recovery of Marawi City including its peripheral areas is also slated for this year.
Infra updates on recent calamities
In related news, Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario of the newly-founded Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development shared updates on the projects affected by the recent Davao quakes. DMCI holdings have agreed to compensate their customers affected by the quakes. Del Rosario explains that they will undertake the negotiations on behalf of the government to ensure the resolution of this issue.
In addition, President Duterte approved Secretary Del Rosario’s proposal for permanent shelter sites for displaced families in the recent Taal eruption. The National Housing Authority (NHA) will provide 5,448 housing units spread out across Batangas, Laguna, Cavite, and Quezon as a grant for the displaced families. These were previously allotted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, but with Secretary Del Rosario’s proposal, will now provide urgently needed shelter for the displaced.
All lights are green
These are just a few of the infrastructure projects ongoing in this new decade. Secretary Villar’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ update paints a picture of unstoppable progress. All lights are green in the country’s road to better infrastructure, and it’s exciting how much progress we are experiencing in such a short time.