Improving lives through infrastructure

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President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s centerpiece project, the “Build, Build, Build” program aims to usher in the “Golden Age of Infrastructure,” and is known as boldest infrastructure development program in recent Philippine history.

According to the Department of Finance (DoF), the current administration chose to embark on this ambitious program to address the country’s poor state of infrastructure, which, for the longest time, has been a major restriction to growth.

“This dismal state of public infrastructure cannot, and should not, be allowed to continue,” the DoF previously said in a press release, citing that Philippines has the worst overall infrastructure among the ASEAN-5 countries since 2010 according to the World Economic Forum Competitiveness Rankings.

One of those problems related to poor infrastructure is Metro Manila’s worsening traffic, which according to a report by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), costs the country about P2.4 billion daily, and is projected to amount to P6 billion daily by 2030.

Meanwhile, in a separate report, Finance Undersecretary Grace Karen Singson said that this program is in keeping with the government’s goal to sustain rapid growth, attract investments, and attain economic inclusion for all Filipinos.

Although ambitious, as Ms. Singson said, every penny is worth spending for. “The ‘Build, Build, Build’ program will create 1.7 million jobs by 2022 as well as secure our country’s fast-paced growth in the medium term.” Separate reports stated that 1.1 million jobs are to be generated every year through the program.

Moreover, the Undersecretary said that the program is in line with the President’s vision to reduce poverty incidence from the current 21.6% to 14% by 2022. She then continued that this would result in the improved lives of more than six million Filipinos and would set the economy securely on the road to upper-middle-income status by 2022 and to a high-income one by 2040.

In particular, the DoF said the government targets 75 flagship aimed to be completed by 2022. These include six airports, nine railways, three bus rapid transits, 32 roads and bridges, and four seaports. The DoF said these projects will help bring down the costs of production; improve rural incomes; encourage countryside investments; make the movement of goods; and people more efficient, and create more jobs.

The airport projects include the construction of a new world-class passenger terminal in Mactan-Cebu International Airport, which is reported to be fully operational starting July; as well as the construction of Bicol International Airport, which is slated to be completed by 2020.

Slated for implementation this year is a new passenger terminal building at Clark International Airport, which aims to increase passenger capacity by eight million per year from the existing number of more than four million passengers per year.

Apart from developing the Clark International Airport, the government is also set to construct New Clark City, which is envisioned to be a modern metropolis and the next growth driver in Luzon. Bases Conversion and Development Authority recently said the 9,450-hectare project is on track, and is positioned to be the country’s first smart, green, and resilient metropolis in the country.

Railway projects on the other hand include LRT-1 South Extension Project, which aims to extend the LRT Line 1 system southward starting from the existing line in Baclaran, and will traverse the cities of Parañaque and Las Piñas in Metro Manila and the City of Bacoor in Cavite. Another is the LRT Line 2 East Extension Project, which will extend the services of LRT Line 2 from Santolan Station to Masinag.

Railway projects also include the Line 7 (MRT-7) — a 22-kilometer elevated railway line with 14 stations from San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan to MRT-3 North Avenue in Quezon City.

In addition to this, the Mega Manila Subway project is also under its way. The first ever subway in Metro Manila, the 25-kilometer underground mass transportation system aims to connect major business districts and government centers. It is expected to be partially operational by 2020 and fully operational by 2025, and will serve around 370,000 passengers per day in its opening year.

Meanwhile, NCR will be easily connected to Clark International Airport and New Clark City via the PNR North 2 project. The 69.5-kilometer mass transportation railway will extend PNR North 1, and will enable a one-way travel time of 56 minutes between the two destinations.

Moreover, PNR 2 is meant to be seamlessly connected to PNR North 1 and PNR South Commuter. The 38-kilometer PNR 1 will connect Malolos, Bulacan with NCR; while the 72-kilometer PNR South Commuter will connect Manila to Los Baños, Laguna.

These PNR projects aim to form one integrated commuter rail system serving commuters traveling to, from, and within NCR, Region III and Region IV-A.

For the southern part of the country, the government is rolling out the Mindanao Railway: Tagum-Davao City-Digos (TDD) Segment, which is expected to reduce travel time from Tagum City, Davao del Norte to Digos City, Davao del Sur from 3.5 hours to 1.3 hours once operational by 2022. Spanning over 100 kilometers, the project is a segment of the larger 830-kilometer Mindanao Railway network.

In addition to these projects, the “Build, Build, Build” program is also set to construct the following: four energy facilities that will ensure stable power supply at lower prices; 10 water resource projects as well as irrigation systems that will raise agricultural output; five flood control facilities that will help protect vulnerable communities as well as boost their resilience against the impact of climate change; and three redevelopment programs that will deliver sustainable solutions to best meet the needs of urban populations.