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Big infra projects face delays due to COVID-19

/ 04:13 AM March 16, 2020

Some big-ticket infrastructure projects are taking a backseat as the Philippine government shifts efforts to fight the spread of the COVID-19 disease.

These projects include Public-Private Partnership (PPP) deals being proposed by the private sector such as the P102-billion upgrade of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) and San Miguel Corp.’s P734-billion New Manila International Airport in Bulacan province.

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“We have temporarily suspended meetings until further notice,” Ruben Reinoso, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) undersecretary for planning who oversees a number of those PPPs, told the Inquirer.

The DOTr said last week it would leave a skeleton force at its offices in Clark, Pampanga, and Mandaluyong City in Metro Manila “to only receive documents.”

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“This is in adherence to the President’s directive to ensure the continuity of operations and public service within the duration of the community quarantine,” the DOTr said in a statement.

Ongoing negotiations for the upgrade of Naia will likely be pushed back, a member of Naia Consortium, the private sector group that is seeking to operate and rehabilitate Naia, said on Saturday.

Such delays indicate the significant impact COVID-19 is also having on the country’s crucial goal to upgrade infrastructure, one of the key programs of the government under its “Build, Build, Build” initiative.

To combat the spread of the virus, the administration has turned to drastic measures.

President Duterte last Thursday announced strict curbs to domestic land, air and sea travel to and from Metro Manila starting March 15 until April 14 to control the spread of COVID-19.

Even local government unit infrastructure projects with national implications are affected.

Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla said the China-backed consortium that won a selection process to build a P550-billion international airport in Sangley Point, Cavite, was asking for more time to finalize its members’ partnership.

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“We have been in communication. They have asked for an extra month to perfect the consortium agreement,” Remulla said.

State-run China Communications Construction Co. Ltd. (CCCC) and taipan Lucio Tan’s MacroAsia Corp. were awarded a deal to develop the first phase of the Sangley Point International Airport last Feb. 14.

Remulla said he was still optimistic the project would proceed.

“We have begun soil and foundation testing for the connector bridge. We expect to begin in 12 weeks at most,” he said. INQ

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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