Elevated toll road near C5 eyed as unsolicited proposal
The tollroad unit of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) welcomed the Duterte administration’s policy to accept unsolicited proposals as it prepares to submit one of its own: An elevated toll road project near C-5 road in Metro Manila.
Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. CEO Rodrigo Franco told reporters last week that conceptual designs have already been shown to the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). A more formal proposal would follow, he said.
Franco said details such as its size, scope and even exact location could not yet be disclosed. Moreover, he said they were looking at first completing a Mindanao Avenue tollroad extension project for the North Luzon Expressway, which Metro Pacific operates.
“It’s a work in progress,” Franco told reporters at the sidelines of an event as the company opened new lanes on a 4-kilometer NLEx stretch in Pampanga province.
Franco said the objective of this new unsolicited tollroad was to build an alternative to C-5 and, in the process, decongest traffic on the main truck route.
Despite scant details, the plan still revealed renewed private-sector interest in an area largely shunned by the previous administration.
The Aquino administration had a well-known distaste for unsolicited bids and it was suggested more than once during the last six years that this method was more prone to corruption. The government instead pursued what it called open and transparent bidding, with uneven results.
Under bidding rules for unsolicited projects, a proposal made by a private sector firm, after gaining all required government approvals, would be subjected to a competitive challenge.
That means rival groups will be invited to submit proposals superior to that of the original proponent, based on parameters set by the government. In the event a better proposal is made, the original proponent can match those terms and win the project. If not, the rival group bags the deal.
Franco said last week that allowing unsolicited proposals was a welcome development. He explained that some projects could be done only through this route.
He cited, as a recent example, Metro Pacific’s connector tollroad that would link their NLEx project with the South Luzon Expressway (operated by San Miguel Corp.) via an 8-km tollroad cutting through Metro Manila mainly using the alignment of Philippine National Railways.
“That becomes viable because it uses NLEx as a takeoff point,” Franco said, referring to the P23-billion connector tollroad project. “Other developers would not be in a position to use NLEx as the base for the project.”
“Some projects cannot be done efficiently as a solicited project. So it’s better these [unsolicited deals] are entertained by government,” he said.
Metro Pacific won last July the connector road project, after a multiyear delay. Franco said construction could start by late next year and completion was seen by 2020.
Metro Pacific, whose tollroad portfolio spans NLEx, Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway and Cavite Expressway, is also involved in electricity retail, water supply, railways and hospital operations. Next year, the group will start building the Cavite Laguna Expressway, a public-private partnership (PPP) project.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.