Road construction investments re-ignite economy — expert

Published August 31, 2020, 6:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Road construction projects at this time when the Philippines is entering a recessionary period due to the pandemic will certainly help ignite economy, according to an expert.  

Rene S. Santiago, one of a handful of Filipino experts in the field of transportation and infrastructure development and who served as adviser to three Secretaries of the then Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), said that infrastructure projects particularly road construction projects have multiplier effects on other domestic industries.

Most of all, Santiago said that beyond road construction that generates employment, completed roads generate greater impact on commerce and industry.

Overall, Santiago, who has done consulting work on transportation infrastructure and  systems in several Asian countries—said that “an investment of hundreds of billions of pesos in road construction projects can truly contribute to the country’s economic recovery,  stimulate industries, and accelerate the growth of host communities.”

For instance, Santiago cited the move of Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) to maintain its aggressive investments program by earmarking P120 billion for tollway construction. 

“That was a wise move,” said Santiago as he noted that companies normally reduce or delay their investments during recessionary period.

MPTC’s response was close on the heels of the government’s declared intention to push through its “Build Build Build” infrastructure program as part of its economic recovery package.

Santiago also noted that MPTC’s investment decision was timely. It came at a time when the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) has primed its project evaluation managers to facilitate review and give the green light to feasible projects calculated to stimulate the national and local economies, and bring a lot of social benefits.

Earlier, in announcing his Tollways Group’s  road construction investment amounting to P120 billion to construct new expressways, MPTC Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan, emphasized the“huge multiplier effect on the economy and on creating more jobs.”

On such multiplier effects, transport engineer Santiago noted the impact of MPTC’s two tollway projects: the NLEX Harbor Link expansion and the Cebu Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX).

The elevated NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10 tollway (plus its extension) is the answer to the logistical and transport problems of the industry, he said.

Earlier in June,  the opening of the 2.6-kilometer section of NLEX Harbor Link, which

expands the NLEX network to the Camanava (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela) area.

The new section was envisioned to serve as alternative route for motorists and truckers, enabling cargo trucks to enjoy 24/7 access. There is no truck ban along the said expressway.

“That’s good news to truckers,” Santiago said, adding,  “Truck bans limit their hours of operation, so more trucks are needed to carry the freight loads.”

“It will no longer be necessary for haulers to double the number of their trucks due to truck bans implemented by government,” he pointed out.

On MPTC’s project in Cebu—the Cebu Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX)—he noted that CCLEX has already encouraged reclamation proposals that “would more than double the size of Cordova.”

He added that “when completed, it would be the most beautiful bridge in the country, perhaps equal to, if not better than, the Halong Bay Bridge in Vietnam. Its construction is truly an engineering marvel.”

He pointed out that, with proper management of its future land use, “Cordova may well shake off its status as a bedroom community in Mactan and rank high among sustainable and livable cities in the Philippines.”

Trade and commerce between Cebu and the towns opposite the Mactan channel will greatly increase, according to investment analysts. In a post-pandemic scenario, Cebu officials entertain the prospects of  another “Ce-boom” in this Queen City of the south.