Back to square one for MPIC’s elevated tollroad
It was unlikely that a Swiss challenge for the P18-billion connector road project of Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. would be completed before the end of 2014, the head of the Department of Public Works and Highways said Wednesday.
Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson told reporters in an interview that apart from the minimum 90 days required for submission of competitive bids for a Swiss challenge, the project would again need the approval of the board of the National Economic and Development Authority, chaired by President Aquino.
“Going through the Swiss challenge, it might be tight to have that whole process completed within the year,” Singson said.
The Neda board approval was needed as the project would now revert to the original unsolicited proposal structure before it was revised to a joint venture with the Philippine National Construction Corp.
That joint venture structure, which was also approved by the Neda board, was struck down by the Department of Justice last July 7, as it stated that the board’s decision “appears to have been issued beyond its powers, and without factual basis or justification.”
“We have to go back to Neda for re-approval,” Singson said. “We are putting it in the [Neda board] agenda as soon as possible.”
Singson added that he did not see any significant delay in this process because it remained the “same project and same concept that was already approved” by the Neda board before the government decided to shift the implementation to a joint venture structure.
“This was 18 months ago. The approval lapsed,” Singson said. He also agreed with the assessment of Metro Pacific Tollways that the project would be completed about a year behind schedule.
The tollroad operator was earlier eyeing to complete the eight-kilomter elevated expressway, which would link Metro Pacific Tollways’ North Luzon Expressway and South Luzon Expressway, by the time President Aquino ends his term in 2016.
Given the new timetable, Metro Pacific Tollways president Ramoncito Fernandez said the expressway would not be finished before 2017.
Metro Pacific chair Manuel V. Pangilinan said on Tuesday that the group was open to a Swiss challenge process, which would allow rival groups to offer to build the connector road.
Under the rules, Metro Pacific Tollways has the right to match rival offers to win the project. Singson clarified that construction of the expressway, aimed at decongesting Metro Manila’s clogged highways, had started initially on the southern end.