• Drones eyed to keep infra projects graft-free

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    THE government is eyeing several measures, including the use of drone cameras, to keep its infrastructure buildup strategy on track and free of graft and corruption, the Department of Finance (DOF) bared on Thursday.

    In a statement, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will undertake certain big-ticket projects like road improvements that it can approve faster and build cheaper than private contractors, on top of public-private partnerships (PPPs).

    “We will avoid PPP where we can do it ourselves. A PPP typically takes 13 months to get going, with the bidding and the negotiations for the contracts. So the projects that we can do ourselves, like…two road-widening projects in Bulacan and north of Manila, totaling about probably 40 kilometers, [that]will be done directly by the DPWH,” he said.

    The government also plans to break up certain major projects into smaller ones to fast-track their completion and require 24-hour construction work if possible, he said.

    “For instance, rather than have one contractor for, let’s say 30 kilometers of road, we can break that up to five contracts of some kilometers each,” Dominguez was quoted as saying in a recent forum.

    To ensure better project monitoring, Dominguez said he had discussed with officials of the DPWH and the National Economic and Development Authority the use of drones to check on whether construction works were being implemented on schedule and whether specifications were being met.

    The government will put up websites so the public will be better informed on the projects’ details and progress, the Cabinet official said.

    “So this will be open to the public and available to anyone who’s interested…drone pictures, drone images, as well as financial contract information. So this is going to be done in that fashion,” Dominguez said.

    Approved major infrastructure projects of the Duterte administration include the improvement of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and the South Line of the North-South Railway Project, which will be funded through the PPP; the Asian Development Bank-supported Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit; the Metro Manila Flood Management Project, which is backed by the World Bank; the New Cebu International Container Port, which will get its funding from Korean official development assistance; and the Panglao Airport, which is supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

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