PH, Japan sign 9.4-B yen loan for Bulacan road expansion
The Philippine and Japanese governments on Wednesday signed the 9.4-billion yen (P4.3 billion) loan agreement to build the third phase of the Arterial Road Bypass Project in Bulacan province.
The government is fast-tracking the roll out of infrastructure projects to ease congestion in and out of Metro Manila.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III signed the agreement for the Philippines while outgoing Japan International Cooperation Agency chief representative Susumu Ito represented the Japanese government.
“The loan agreement amounting to about $89 million carries an interest rate of 1.5 percent per annum for non-consulting services and 0.01 percent for consulting services, with a maturity period of 30 years, inclusive of a 10-year grace period,” Dominguez said in a speech during the signing ceremony.
Since the total project cost for the 24.6-kilometer road is about P5.3 billion, the Philippine government will provide counterpart financing of P1 billion.
Most dynamic areas
The first two phases of the project were also financed by official development assistance (ODA) from Japan through loan agreements signed in 2004 and 2012 worth a total of 10.9 billion yen.
Dominguez said the road extension would connect the North Luzon Expressway in Balagtas town with the Maharlika Highway in San Rafael.
It will also upgrade as well as expand the existing bypass road from two lanes to a four-lane carriageway national road.
“The areas linked by this bypass road are among the most dynamic and therefore most congested. These are towns hosting new industrial estates and numerous agribusiness enterprises. The bypass road will complement the food route supplying Metro Manila. It is a vital link in the food chain highly appreciated by the population of Bulacan province,” Dominguez said.
“[It’s] an economically worthwhile investment. It symbolizes the economic calculation, immediacy of impact and long-term multiplier effects that we wish to see in all the ‘Build, Build, Build’ projects,” Dominguez added.
In a statement, Jica said the project’s third phase would start implementation in May “and will help deliver time savings of 45-50 minutes for commuters coming from the northern part of Metro Manila traveling to the south.”
“We continue to support the Philippines’ ‘Build, Build, Build’ program through this project, and we’re confident that once constructed, this bypass road will help create new growth centers outside Metro Manila and enhance mobility of many Filipinos,” Ito said.
Following a Jica report last week showing that the economic cost of transportation in Metro Manila was at P3.5 billion a day last year and could grow to P5.4 billion daily by 2035, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia and Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar said the government is working to address the problem on traffic congestion.
Jica defined the economic cost of transportation as “the vehicle operating cost and time cost spent by drivers and passengers along the road network in Metro Manila, not economic loss or congestion loss.”
“Later this year or next year, there will be much more relief palpable among commuters and motorists because the Harbor Link Road is scheduled to be finished [in] June this year. It will link the port to the NLEx, meaning trucks can go direct there without having to pass through Metro Manila streets. And also the NLEx-South Luzon Expressway [connector] road scheduled to be done by next year, the Skyway is going to be done … Of course, there’s C6,” said Pernia, who heads the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority.
“The president has a plan and it’s timely being implemented to significantly reduce traffic not just in Metro Manila but across the country … The plan is in place and I think the people in the next few years can expect major improvements in the traffic situation. This is something that the administration considers top priority—solving the traffic problem,” Villar, for his part, said.
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.