MANILA North Tollways Corp. (MNTC) expects the cost of building the proposed connector road between the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) to increase by 30 percent due to possible design changes.
MNTC is the toll road unit of infrastructure conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) that currently operates the NLEX.
MNTC president Rodrigo Franco told reporters they expect the cost of the project to increase because of changes in design that may be required due to a parallel government project.
“What happened kasi is di ba meron na rin project yung DOTC, yung North South Commuter Rail. So we will now have to revise our design to accommodate the construction of the north south commuter rail,” he said.
He added: “We will both be using the PNR’s (Philippine National Railways) right of way so where feasible, we would do our project side by side. In other parts, we might have to go above the North South Commuter Rail Project.”
He said the P18 billion project cost was originally for 13 kilometers “but now it would only have 8 kilometers because of the 5 kilometers common alignment and 8 kilometers main connector road.”
MNTC’s original unsolicited proposal for the connector project involved some 13 kilometers of elevated road that would connect NLEX and SLEX, including a five-kilometer common alignment from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) to Buendia Avenue in Makati City.
The project was proposed by MPIC about five years ago and in January 2014, MPIC and the Philippine National Construction Corp. (PNCC) signed an agreement to build the connector road project under similar terms as the existing MPIC concession rights for the operation of NLEX through the Manila North Tollways Corp.
In February, the NEDA Board approved the connector road project under the unsolicited mode, which is subject to a Swiss challenge.
Consequently, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said it plans to hold a Swiss challenge for the project in the second quarter this year, which would push its planned completion to 2017 at the earliest from the original target of 2016.
A Swiss challenge is a form of public procurement that requires a government agency that has received an unsolicited bid for a public project or services to publish the bid and invite third parties to match or exceed it.
“After NEDA Board approval, the next step is to update the project terms in conjunction with the DPWH. We will need to update the design. The cost will also change,” Franco added.
The company said it may need to raise about P15 billion to finance the connector road project.
“On a per-kilometer basis, the cost is higher because it becomes shorter [from 13 kilometers it becomes 8 kilometers]. In a sense the cost is almost the same [only that it became shorter],” Franco said.