By Fil C. Sionil
On Sunday, Cebu is holding the culmination of the week-long Sinulog festival with Sto. Niño as the center of the festivities. Historians believe that the image of Child Jesus was the baptismal gift of Ferdinand Magellan to Queen Hara Amihan, the wife of local chieftain Rajah Humabon in 1521. Magellan was credited with introducing Christianity in the country. The Philippines is the first Roman Catholic nation in this part of the world.
This annual festival has attracted both local and foreign tourists. I am super-green with envy as the last time I participated in the celebration seems like eons ago. Participants in the festivities have grown by leaps and bounds. With the expected millions of people attending the event, not to mention the street parties and parades around the Queen City of the South, it’s just but natural to assume that the flow of traffic will be horrendous.
As it is, with the continuing boom in the domestic economy of Cebu, going around the city and its nearby municipalities is challenging. Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña recognizes this situation, prompting him to sign a partnership in November last year with transport vehicle service Uber Philippines designed to, among others, decongest, and ease the flow of traffic.
It is no wonder, then, that Metro Pacific Tollways Development Corp. (MPTDC), a subsidiary of Metro Pacific Investment Corp. (MPIC), bid to build the third cable-stayed bridge that crosses Mactan channel to connect the municipality of the economically growing island of Cordova off the southern coast of Mactan island with Metro Cebu. It’s the first MPTDC venture in the Visayas region. Today, produce and residents in Cordova have to pass through the cities of Mandaue and Lapu-lapu. MPTDC will manage the Cebu-Cordova bridge or the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) under the umbrella of Cebu-Cordova Link Express Corp. (CCLEC).
Allan Alfon, CCLEC president and general manager, says the fine details, including the engineering and architectural design, are being finalized. CCLEC, a subsidiary of MPIC’s toll road arm Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., is bank-rolling the multi-billion peso infrastructure project.
Total project cost is R30 billion, of which R22.6 billion is for the construction of the bridge to be undertaken by a consortium of local firms D.M. Consunji Inc. and First Balfour, Inc. and Spain-based Acciona Construccion S.A. The balance of R7.4 billion is allocated for other operational expenditures.
The funding is 40 percent equity and 60 percent borrowing. I heard that BDO Universal Bank will be the lead underwriter for the revolving facility. Other financial institutions reportedly willing to participate in the funding requirement are Metrobank and RCBC.
“We to hope to complete all the details in three to four months. Construction to commence in June, at the earliest or July, at the latest,” said Mr. Alfon. In the design, the 8.5-kilometer CCLEX will be supported by twin tower pylons inspired by the cross of Magellan, the Portuguese conquistador. There will be eight crosses which can be seen from all angles.
The target for the opening is March, 2021. It’s a “symbolic” gift and in time for the celebration of the 500 years of the birth of Christianity in the country.
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