A 3rd bridge to link Mactan to Cebu City
It sounds too good to be true, as Cordova Municipal Mayor Adelino Sitoy announced that the town of Cordova has apparently entered into a joint venture agreement and a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with the Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC), a subsidiary of the Metro Pacific Investments Corp. led by business tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan to undertake the P16.5 billion 3rd link from mainland Cebu to Mactan Island. The two other bridges across the Mactan Channel are linked to Cebu City via Mandaue City.
Mayor Sitoy made this announcement during the Tapok-Tapok Media Forum at the Cebu Business Hotel organized by the Publishers Association of the Philippines (PAPI) Cebu Chapter last Friday… that on January 1, 2015, this joint venture between Cordova and MPTC would break ground on Shell Island to mark the beginning of the construction of the 3rd bridge.
If we’ve been skeptical about this project it is not because we didn’t need it, (in fact we needed it 10-years ago) but rather because usually such big ticket infrastructure projects are bided out by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), after all this is an infrastructure project and when the Marcel Fernan Bridge was approved, they bided it out.
On this legal question, legal chief Alberto Agra said that the local government of Cebu Province, (in this case the town of Cordova) could enter into a joint venture agreement with a developer or contractor without the approval of the Regional Development Council (RDC-7) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).
I was with the RDC for nearly 20 years and this is the first time I have heard that huge ticket projects didn’t need the nod of NEDA or the RDC. Well, I was out of the RDC since 2011 and I guess someone changed the rules. Because of this unique approach to infrastructure development, for the sake of transparency, we would like to know what are the elements of this joint venture agreement between MPTC and the town of Cordova?
At this point, I can only see this as an opportunity for this project to move forward without the nod of NEDA, wherein we recently wrote that there were no NEDA approved projects given to Cebu in the last four years under the Aquino regime and certainly, we also learned that there was none for 2015. More often than not, NEDA gets to be too bureaucratic!
I had a talk with Mayor Sitoy the other week on this issue and his previous plan to move the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) to a reclaimed part of Cordova, which would have put the airport just a mere five minutes ride from downtown Cebu City. But when the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) bided the MCIA to the GMR-Megawide consortium, he told me that plan was no longer feasible and he had since dropped the idea.
I also told Mayor Sitoy that he should ask his partners from MPTC to come up with an architect’s perspective of how this bridge would look like. We’ve already seen many architect’s perspective (but not from MPTC) of this bridge, which we believe would be hard to implement as it would take up so much land especially on the approach of the new bridge especially from Cebu City. So I mentioned to Mayor Sitoy that if MPTC was agreeable, they should have a spiral approach to the 3rd bridge, similar to the Queens Borough Bridge in New York City or that bridge in Yokohama Japan, which doesn’t take much space. Mayor Sitoy agreed with my observation on this.
As far as the Cordova reclamation is concerned, I also intimated to Mayor Sitoy that what Metro Cebu direly needs is international port facilities, as the present Port of Cebu has become too shallow, which means big cargo vessels cannot easily come in to unload their cargo and yes, Cebu rarely gets visits from those huge cruise liners, which could boost our tourism revenues and further boost Cebu’s economic prowess in the South.
Meanwhile, for those who are not from Cebu… the reason why the 3rd link from mainland Cebu to Mactan Island would be done via Cordova is due to the fact that the majority of traffic, especially coming from the South of Cebu City has to go all the way to Mandaue City if they are going to MCIA. Putting the 3rd bridge to cross via Cordova is not only logical; it would split the traffic and thus decongest the route from Cebu City to Mandaue. This in my book is the best way traffic there can be decongested.
Of course MPTC has do to their homework because they must find a direct route from the 3rd bridge to go to the airport. Of course, this new link would make it faster for Cebu City residents to access the beaches of Marigondon, where many beach resorts like the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa are located. So we look forward with bated breath that come Jan. 1 nothing untoward would stop the groundbreaking for the 3rd Mactan Bridge.