By Betheena Unite
Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar on Tuesday revealed that the Duterte administration has at least 45 big-ticket infrastructure projects under the Build, Build, Build program to decongest Metro Manila roads and link the country from North to South.
In a roundtable interview with the Manila Bulletin, Villar revealed that most or 75 percent of these big-ticket projects under the government’s massive infrastructure program will be completed by the end of President Duterte’s term in 2022.
These projects include the milestone projects of the DPWH – Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3, Harborlink, C-5 Southlink Expressway, NLEX-SLEX connector, and the Cavite-Laguna Expressway – will make up the 75 percent of projects expected to improve the road network of the country and ease traffic in three years.
“I think most (of the 45 projects will be finished) but it’s important to know that there are some projects that have alignments that will continue even beyond because I don’t wanna say that implementation of the projects will be hard stop by 2022. Some of these projects will continue by the successor,” Villar said.
Other big-ticket projects presented by Villar are the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge, Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge, Bonifacio Global City-Ortigas Center Link Road Project, Southeast Metro Manila Expressway, C-6 (Phase I), Cavite Toll Expressway Project, Apayao-Ilocos Norte Road, and the Bauang-San Fernando City-San Juan Bypass Road, La Union.
While most of the projects are expected to be completed by the time the President bows out of office, it doesn’t mean that the construction work will stop by that time. It will still continue, “especially with the pipeline that we have created,” Villar assured.
“So you see by the halfway point, meron na tayong na-complete (we have already completed some). I would say may batches yan e. The first batch 2020 to 2021 – makikita na natin yung Skyway, yung Harborlink, yung Calaex, yung C-5 Southlink – in mMetro Manila. And then we will see the next batch of projects in 2022, but overall definitely by the end of the term of the President, ibang-iba na yung Pilipinas. That I can guarantee and if you can look at the pipeline that we have that’s evidence that definitely there will be a different country than when we came in. Ibang-iba. Maybe, even more than 75 percent (will be completed),” Villar said.
‘It’s not all talk’
He said that other projects are “on the advanced stage of planning,” noting that under the Build, Build, Build program – tagged as the most ambitious infrastructure master plan of the government – there are thousands of projects being implemented and studied.
“That’s why I wanted to show these projects so that the people will know that this will happen and it’s not all talk,” Villar stressed, promising that by next year, traffic in the country, particularly in Metro Manila, will improve.
He also appealed to the public to understand that completing a certain infrastructure project requires years of planning and designing, and entails sacrifice.
“Whatever suffering we have now, it’s for a good purpose which is next year maluwag na. Medyo luluwag na ang traffic natin by next year. I promise,” Villar assured, while stressing that the DPWH had to start from a scratch to come up with the masterplan that they have now.
“There’s a detailed engineering design, but they have to understand also at the same time that planning for a mega bridge, it really takes years and unfortunately when we came in there’s no pipeline, not even a feasibility study, or drawing. So, we have to create our own pipeline so it takes time,” he added.
Return of EDSA’s original state
Villar also vowed that by next year the original capacity of the Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) will return to its old form as most of the projects in Metro Manila are projected to give motorists a bypass for EDSA and Circumferential Road-5.
“I’m hoping, by our computation, we have enough ammunition now to bring EDSA back to its original capacity,” Villar said.
Various elevated expressways that are under construction were identified by Villar as bypass for the two highways in the metropolis.
“I know the traffic is bad now because the Skyway (project) is in full force construction. Some say we can scale back the construction, so it may ease traffic a little a bit but why not finish it now. Para sa akin lang (For me), let’s just finish this. Tapusin na natin (Let’s complete it now),” Villar said.