A 3rd bridge to link Mac­tan to Cebu City

The Philippine Star - - OPINION - By BO­BIT S. AVILA Email: vs­bo­[email protected]­com.com or vs­bo­[email protected]

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.

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