DOTr readies SMC’s Bulacan airport proposal for Swiss challenge
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is targeting to launch in a few weeks the bid process for San Miguel Corp.’s (SMC) massive Bulacan airport proposal.
Reuben Reinoso, DOTr undersecretary for planning, told reporters they were now working on the terms of reference or the guidelines for a Swiss challenge. This is a type of bidding process required for unsolicited project proposals such as SMC’s P735.6-billion airport project dubbed the New Manila International Airport, which was being eyed as an eventual replacement for Manila’s congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).
“Hopefully, in a couple of weeks we will advertise the Swiss challenge,” Reinoso said, adding that the DOTr had already formed its special bids and awards committee for the upcoming tender.
The project, which will rise on a 2,500-hectare property in Bulakan, Bulacan, north of Manila Bay, was approved by the board of the National Economic and Development Authority on Dec. 21, 2018.
Reinoso said the Department of Finance (DOF) had since sought to clarify certain issues, including SMC’s plan to build the airport in phases and the circumstances that would trigger a so-called material adverse government action, or when the state breaches its contractual obligations.
“We have responded to that,” Reinoso said.
He said the Bulacan airport would be built in phases to hasten the start of operations.
“That’s the policy of the DOTr: partial operability,” he said. “Don’t forget, it’s a 100-million [passenger capacity] airport with four parallel runways. If we wait for full completion, we cannot operate it right away,” he said.
Citing SMC’s proposal, Reinoso said the first phase, which would have two runways and a 35-million annual passenger capacity, would be ready in three to four years. Succeeding phases will be added depending on demand, he said.
The DOF had earlier expressed concerns on the impact the Bulacan airport would have on Clark, a rising business and government hub that Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III wanted to transform into the country’s “next big metropolis.”
The Bulacan airport will be located near the midpoint between Manila and Clark, which is about 100 kilometers away from Metro Manila.
Reinoso said new gateways like Bulacan were needed given expansion constraints in Naia.
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