PH urged to implement P2.6-T infra plan
The Philippine capital may be grappling with worsening congestion issues but for the first time in decades, the country has the financial means to fully address the problem and should act soon, an official of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) said.
Jica was the agency tapped to craft a so-called transportation dream plan, a P2.6-trillion proposal mainly comprised of massive railway, road, airport and seaport that would solve costly congestion issues in Metro Manila by 2030.
Shizuo Iwata, chair of Japan’s Almec Corp. and among the team that crafted the dream plan, said various funding options were now available amid a resurgence in the Philippine economy. The country, also due to investment-grade rating upgrades in recent years, could tap cheaper debt, avail itself of overseas development assistance (ODA) loans or implement deals with the help of the private sector.
“Before, in 1996 and the 1980s, whenever we had a dream plan [the Philippines] always lacked money. So we had to reduce the size of the plan,” Iwata told reporters last week. “So now there is money. This [situation] is a first time in the history of a master plan for Metro Manila,” he added.
Traffic congestion comes with high costs, or about P2.4-billion daily, according to Jica. That figure would balloon to P6 billion a day in 2030 if the government failed to intervene, he said.
“If nothing is done, the situation in 2030 will become a nightmare. All roads will be saturated. Negative impact on economic, social and environmental aspects will be so large, deterring the function and livability of Metro Manila,” a part of Jica’s roadmap, presented with the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), showed.
As an immediate solution, Jica said that about P520 billion should be spent between 2014 and 2016. The figure includes P164.7 billion for new expressways, including a proposed Calamba-Los Baños tollroad, and P178.8 billion for new railways like the proposed Mega Manila subway study.
Airports were also a crucial part as a study was ongoing for a massive $10-billion international airport in Sangley Point, Cavite, which would eventually replace the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City.
Jica also noted that the dream plan’s economic benefits justified its massive cost as savings from vehicle operating costs and travel time was expected to reach P4 billion a day, or P1.2 trillion a year, for Mega Manila.
“If a set of proper interventions are made, traffic congestions can be removed from most of the road sections. Compared to the present situation, overall transport cost can be reduced by 13 percent and air quality improved in Metro Manila,” Jica said.
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