THE proponents of the Lapu-Lapu Expressway (LLEX), also known as the skyway project, have signed a memorandum of understanding with a China-based company to help in the construction of the 12-kilometer toll road.

LLEX Corp. composed of Premium Megastructures Inc., Ulticon Builders Inc. and MTD Philippines Inc. signed the MOU with China First Highway Engineering Co. Ltd. (CFHEC) in Manila on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023.

Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan, who witnessed the event with his wife, Lapu-Lapu City Lone District Rep. Ma. Cynthia “Cindi” Chan, said CFHEC is known for building transportation infrastructure such as skyways or expressways in China.

“Murag nakig-joint venture ba ang proponent,” Chan told SunStar Cebu. (It’s like the proponent has entered into a joint venture.)

Last week, Lapu-Lapu Vice Mayor Celedonio “Celsi” Sitoy said the construction of the P24.8 billion skyway project was expected to begin in March this year.

But on Jan. 30, Chan said the construction will probably start in September, as the alignment of the skyway is still ongoing, which will take at least six months.

“As much as possible, we are looking for ways to avoid hitting houses,” he said.

LLEX will connect the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway, which ends in Barangay Gabi, Cordova, to the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) in Lapu-Lapu City.

The four-lane toll road aims to solve the traffic congestion on Mactan Island, particularly in Lapu-Lapu City, as it eyes to serve 50,000 vehicles per day. It is expected to be operational by 2025.

Julius Neri Jr., general manager of the MCIA Authority, earlier said they badly need the skyway so passengers can get to the airport faster.

Neri, however, stressed that he had not yet seen the detailed plans so he could not comment on its impact while being constructed.

On June 17, 2022, Mayor Chan and LLEX Corp. president Manuel Gonzales Jr. signed a memorandum of agreement in Lapu-Lapu City a week after the City Council allowed Chan to sign a joint venture agreement (JVA) between the city government and LLEX Corp.

Under the JVA, the contract period is 35 years and may be extended by 15 years on the request of the proponent. The share of the City in the toll revenues will increase gradually from one percent to 2.5 percent. The proponent may request exemption from taxes during this period.