Infrastructure gaps have long been identified as a barrier to growth. In the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index for 2017-2018, shortfalls in infrastructure in the Philippines has been ranked as the second most problematic factor for doing business in the country, behind inefficient government bureaucracy.
No less than President Rodrigo Duterte has warned that Metro Manila will be a “dead city in 25 years” given its horrible traffic congestion which, according a recent study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, is costing P3.5 billion in daily losses to the economy.
JICA predicted the daily losses could go up to P6 billion by 2030 if the situation is not addressed.
For Pres. Duterte, the only viable solution is to roll out infrastructure projects aimed at easing traffic within and outside the capital under the government’s ambitious Build, Build, Build program.
“It is very important that we disperse the industries. You have to disperse the crowd. Manila, I think, will be in about 25 years a dead city. It will start to decay and there is no way that we can rehabilitate the place,” the President said.
The administration’s Build, Build, Build program is predicted to usher in a “golden age of infrastructure” in the country with 75 high-impact flagship projects.
“Already we have started a three-year rolling program amounting to over $69 billion until 2022,” Mr. Duterte said.
The program is expected to put infrastructure spending at 7.3 percent of gross domestic product by the end of the President’s term, with key projects such as the rehabilitation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and the construction of the first subway system.
Seven of the country’s largest conglomerates have earlier submitted a P350-billion unsolicited proposal to transform NAIA into a world-class regional aviation hub by expanding the terminals and developing additional runways and support infrastructure.
The planned 30-kilometer subway, on the other hand, will run between Mindanao Ave. in Quezon City and NAIA across 14 stations. The government is working on securing the right-of-way for the project within the year, targeting to open the first three stations of the underground mass transport system by May 2022.
Other infrastructure projects covered by the program are as follows:
- the PNR South Rail which will connect Manila to Bicol region and will be able to accommodate up to 400,000 passengers daily upon its completion in 2022;
- the PNR North Rail, which will connect Manila’s Tutuban Station to Pampanga’s Clark International Airport in just 55 minutes;
- the Luzon Spine Expressway which will start in La Union and end in the Bicol region, linking the North Luzon and South Luzon expressways;
- the 74-kilometer Metro Cebu Expressway which is expected to slash by half the travel time from Naga City to Danao City; and
- the colossal Mindanao Railway project which will cover 2,000 miles between Tagum, Davao City and Digos, reducing travel time to just an hour.
“Our Build, Build, Build program will provide the solid backbone for growth. This will continue to upgrade the infrastructure, connect more people and communities and create more jobs,” the President said.