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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Cebu City approves MVP-led firm to build third bridge

(File Photo)

CEBU - Mayor Michael Rama declared the Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) the original proponent of the proposed third bridge project that will link mainland Cebu to Mactan Island.

The Cebu City Joint Venture Committee for the third bridge has wrapped up its review of the proposal that MPTC submitted to the City Government.

Last week, when the Municipality of Cordova broke ground for the project on Shell Island, Mayor Adelino Sitoy said that construction of the third bridge will begin within the year. It was the groundbreaking that prompted Mayor Rama to fast-track Cebu City’s review of the project proposal.

“Based on our review, the proposal was really original and they did not copy other designs,” City Administrator Lucelle Mercado told Sun.Star Cebu.

Last Thursday, the joint venture committee met and completed its review, including the financial capability of MPTC to construct the project. (In a previous interview, Mayor Sitoy said that MPTC, led by business tycoon Manuel Pangilinan, was ready to invest P15 billion to build the bridge.)

Mayor Rama said he already signed the certification that declared MPTC the original proponent of the third bridge project the Cebu City Government and the Municipal Government of Cordova will be undertaking.

“I am very happy that they are already done with the review,” he said.

Mercado, who chairs the joint venture committee, said they already informed MPTC and forwarded the certification to them last week so they can proceed with the discussion on the terms and conditions.

She said that Rama wanted some items modified, particularly the approach of the bridge in the Cebu City side. As proposed by MPTC, the approach of the bridge will be placed near the Cebu South Coastal Road viaduct, in front of Barangay Duljo-Fatima.

However, Rama wants it at the mouth of the Guadalupe River, near Barangay Pasil. Rama did not further disclose what other modifications he will ask for.

Once discussions on the terms and conditions are done, Mercado said they will ask the City Council to authorize the mayor to enter into a contract with the proponent.

The City Legal Office will also review the contract once Rama will be given the authority to sign it.

“We will go through that process because that is necessary,” Mercado said.

Asked to comment on the matter, councilor Margrita Osmeña said, “I think everybody wants the third bridge because it is necessary.”

She recalled that when MPTC previously presented to the council their project proposal, she was impressed by it.

“It was very good but I’m not a technical person that is why I leave all the details to those who are in charge,” said the councilor, who heads the council’s budget and finance committee.

Asked if this means MPTC will definitely undertake the project, Mercado said that will depend if no one will challenge the proposal.

“We will publish that and if no one will challenge it, then they will be the sole proponent of the project,” she said.

Cordova, for its part, held the groundbreaking for the project last Jan. 1, 2015. One approach of the bridge will be in the town’s Shell Island.

By the middle of this year, Sitoy had said, construction of the third bridge may already start.

“We will see that what is important is we will follow all the processes needed,” Rama said, when asked about the Cordova mayor’s projected target date for construction to start.

Metro Pacific Tollways’ parent company, Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), is also majority owner of the company that operates North Luzon Expressway (NLEX). In January last year, the Public-Private Partnership Center reported, the MPIC signed a joint venture to build, for P22.95 billion, a 13-kilometer road that would connect the NLEX with the South Luzon Expressway. RVC
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