Private sector investments ‘need counterpart infra from gov’t’

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Sunday, June 22, 2014


WHILE plans for tourism-related projects have already been laid out by the private sector to boost Cebu’s tourism and investment, stakeholders believe these should be coupled with the right public infrastructure.

Among the key private sector-led projects is the expansion of the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIAA) by GMR-Megawide.

The expansion, however, will require bigger road networks leading to the airport.

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Andrew Acquaah Harrison, chief executive adviser of the GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp., expressed doubts on the capacity of the current road network in Mactan to serve the growth in passengers that will be brought about by the expansion.

The new terminal will have a capacity of eight million people. With the current figure of 4.5 million, the total passenger capacity will be 12.5 million.

“The road infrastructure will not be able to support the road to the airport,”

Harrison said

He suggested a third bridge to connect Mactan to Metro Cebu.

“(We hope to) work with the local government unit to develop the surrounding facilities (of MCIAA)…(On the third bridge), we have a plan to bring the resources and expertise to help the local government understand what are the strategies required to do this. In New Delhi, we contributed $150 million to the development of a metro connection to the city and it was very successful,” Harrison said.

However, he clarified that the company does not have plans to pour in funds to build another Mactan bridge.

“I’m not saying that we’re gonna shell out $150 million here to do that,” he said.

GMR-Megawide has entered into a P17.52 billion contract for the construction of a new passenger terminal in MCIA.

The Department of Transportation and Communications on April said the turnover of maintenance of MCIA to the concessionaire will be in October this year. Under the contract, the company will take over MCIA’s operations and maintenance for 25 years.

“(We will) make Cebu as the international gateway to Southern Philippines,” Harrison said.

Encourage investments

Likewise, Cebu Business Month Tourism and Investment Forum chair Ben Dapat raised the need to improve the state of Cebu’s infrastructure to further attract and bring in more investments, not only in major cities but also in other areas within the province. This, he noted, is the responsibility of the government.

“How can we encourage growth when there is no infrastructure?” Dapat said in an interview on Friday.

This year, the national government allocated P213.5 billion to the Department of Public Works and Highways, a 40.1-percent budgetary increase from last year’s P152.4 billion.

Cebu Business Club executive director Fernando Fajardo said Cebu’s state of infrastructure is below standards with an “unattractive physical environment.”

In his presentation on Cebu’s Strategic Tourism Development Roadmap, Fajardo included a call for an infrastructure development strategy that is world class.

Fajardo included in his discussion the Cebu Circumferential Road, which is supposed to serve as an alternative route through hillsides that will connect the cities of Naga and Danao.

DPWH officials said in previous interviews with Sun.Star Cebu that the circumferential road, which was suggested more than 20 years ago, “is envisioned as one of the long-term solutions to decongest traffic in central business districts of Metro Cebu.”

However, this has not been pushed through yet because of the lack of funds.

Metro Cebu Development Coordinating Board chairman of the executive committee Gordon Allan Joseph told members of the private sector not to become dependent on the government on matters involving the development of Cebu. He also asked everyone to get involved in projects and activities that will improve the province.

MCDCB is spearheading the Mega Cebu project, which is an urban development vision for Cebu requiring cooperation from the seven cities and six towns comprising Metropolitan Cebu. Under the theme “Mega Cebu: Making WAVES,” it aims to make Cebu a “wholesome, advanced, vibrant, equitable, and sustainable” place to live in.

“We in the private sector are the only people who can make sure that our projects will not end on a three-year term,” Joseph said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 23, 2014.

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