By Emmie V. Abadilla
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is ready to open the Swiss challenge bids for the P735 billion airport New Manila International Airport (NMIA) in Bulacan at the end of this month (July 31, 2019), Secretary Arthur Tugade announced in yesterday’s round table conference at the Manila Bulletin headquarters in Intramuros, Manila.
If no competitors show up by then, the NMIA’ original proponent, San Miguel Corporation (SMC), can start the project before 2019 is over. This April, the DOTr invited interested companies and groups to submit comparative proposals to fund, design, construct, operate and maintain the Bulacan airport project under a 50-year concession period.
Sources from the government and private sector noted that no consortium is going to put up a proposal to match that of San Miguel Corporation for the Bulacan airport.
The agency gave original proponent status to SMC’s NMIA project, which the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) approved in April, 2018.
SMC proposed to construct a world-class, major international gateway with 4-6 parallel runways, modern terminals, a sea port, an industrial zone, plus necessary infrastructure such as expressways, in Bulacan province, north of Metro Manila to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay City and improve traffic in Metro Manila.
The airport project, also being called the Bulacan Aerotropolis, will cover about 2,500 hectares, with terminal facilities capable of accommodating 100 million passengers per year.
It is expected to generate about a million jobs and jump-start economic growth as well as tourism in Bulacan and neighboring provinces although militant fishermen are opposing the project which requires massive land reclamation within the 2,500-hectare fishpond area in the coastal barangay of Taliptip.
However, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has already issued an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for the SMC project.
Earlier SMC President Ramon S. Ang said: “If all things go according to plan, SMC hopes to be operating by the end of 2024 its massive $14-B aeropolis in Bulacan — the most ambitious infrastructure project to be started under the present administration.
“Our proposal to build a new, world-class international gateway—the New Manila International Airport—has undergone extensive review by various government agencies,” noted SMC President Ramon S. Ang.
With the Swiss challenge for the proposed project to end on July 31, 2019, Ang is confident that all requirements will be satisfied soon and they can break ground for the project by the end of 2019.
“If no other company puts forth a comparable offer to build one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects in our country’s history, Filipinos could be enjoying more than just a world-class airport some five years after its groundbreaking,” said Ang.
He explained that, “nothing of this magnitude has ever been completed. But we know that, to truly solve our decades-lone problem of land and air congestion and to fully tap our economic potential, our country needs a future-proof solution.”
The sheer scale of the development can’t be downplayed. NMIA will feature four parallel runways with four times the constrained capacity of the existing intersecting runways of NAIA.
There is ample space to construct a high-capacity runway system and airport complex that will ensure the efficient handling of 100 million to 200 million passengers per year compared to the 30 million capacity of NAIA.