The Department of Finance (DOF) has given the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) the green light to award the P23.2-billion elevated connector road that would link the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) to South Luzon Expressway (SLEX).
“My understanding is that they can award it. If they wish,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd told reporters on the sidelines of the Development Budget Coordinating Committee budget briefing on Wednesday.
Dominguez made the statement after Metro Pacific Investment Corp. (MPIC) noted the delay in awarding the project to its subsidiary Metro Pacific Tollways Development Corp. was caused by an opinion issued by the DOF under the Aquino administration.
The DOF opinion required the public-private partnership (PPP) project be undertaken by a special purpose company.
Now, there is no need for MPIC to create a separate company, Dominguez said.
He emphasized, however, that giving the connector road project to a special purpose company is more convenient for the government. “… If anything goes wrong, it can be very easy to identify the assets involved.”
While the DPWH may now award the project, Dominguez said the DOF does not intend to recall the opinion.
“No. At this time, no. But they can do it if they see it fit. It’s not … ex cathedra,” he said.
The NLEX-SLEX Connector Road Project involves the construction, operation, and maintenance of an 8-kilometer four-lane elevated expressway over the Philippine National Railway (PNR) right of way.
It starts from C3 Road in Caloocan through Manila, crossing España Boulevard toward Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Santa Mesa and connecting the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3.
According to the PPP Center, once completed, the NLEX-SLEX Connector road is expected to decongest traffic in Metro Manila by providing an alternative to C-5 Road, Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA), and other major thoroughfares. It can cut the travel time between NLEX and SLEX to 15 minutes to 20 minutes from more than an hour.