• SBMA eyes China financing for Subic-Manila coastal road project

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    THE Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) will ask for Malacanang’s nod to have the proposed 100-kilometer multimodal coastal highway that would link the ports of Subic and Manila included for financing under the Philippine-China Framework of Cooperation.

    “It is time to shift the momentum of development north toward Subic and Clark,” said SBMA Chairman Martin Dino in a statement over the weekend.

    The proposed P100-billion elevated expressway-railway, which could be completed in just 48 months, is only one of the five cluster proposals on infrastructure building proposed by the SBMA chief.

    “The most viable and doable solution to the traffic congestion lies outside the metropolis,” Dino added.

    Dino said he would propose that the project be included for financing under the Philippine-China Framework of Cooperation after he secures the approval of Transportation Secretary Art Tugade.

    He said the project’s indicative cost is the equivalent of just 34 days of cumulative business losses resulting from Manila’s traffic congestion. The country is losing an estimated P3-billion a day from traffic congestion.

    Immediate benefits

    The economic benefits from the project would be immediate and enormous, Dino said.

    “It would speed up the movement of goods in and out of the Port of Manila to serve its giant market of 20 million consumers; and it would finally help to decongest heavy traffic in the metropolis,” Dino said.

    The elevated highway-railway along the coast of Manila Bay tops his priority list of five infrastructure proposals that would tap into the potential of Subic and Clark to become the new centers of manufacturing, industry, finance and high technology.

    “In our frantic search for solutions that will work, we keep on forgetting about Subic and Clark and their enormous but lightly tapped potential,” he said.

    The two centers, he pointed out, constitute a “corridor of new wealth” 100 kilometers north of Manila.

    “Compared to other cities, the Subic-Clark corridor is the only place that has a sustainable future and its full-blown expansion is the key that would trigger an inflow of investments,” he said.

    He said the inauguration of a new Philippine-China economic partnership, ramped-up government spending on infrastructure and the ongoing peace talks with communist rebels and Muslim separatists are among the key factors that make the development of Subic and Clark an “extreme necessity.”

    The fourth factor, he said, is the inauguration of the new national vision called “AmBisyon 2040.”

    “It represents the collective aspirations of the Filipino people—of what they would like their individual lives and their country to be a quarter-century from now,” he said.

    Other priority projects

    The proposed Subic-Manila coastal highway dovetails with the Freeport’s planned expansion of its Container Terminals 3 and 4 by over 30 hectares, which would increase its handling capacity to 1.2 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), Dino said.

    He said the SBMA would boost as well the handling capacity of the Naval Supply Depot Compound and Bulk Cargo Port Wharves for loose cargoes, and rehabilitate the Sattler Pier.

    The widening of the Tipo Road, which links the Freeport facility to the expressway, into a four-lane highway and the construction of a new tunnel and bridge to accommodate the new lanes are also among his priorities.

    These have to be undertaken simultaneously in this “golden age of infrastructure,” he stressed.

    Also considered a vital part of the new road network is the 17.273-km bypass road that would connect the Freeport terminals directly with the Subic–Clark–Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), he said.

    “Our goal is to connect Subic to Manila and the economic zones in Luzon,” Dino said.

    Road to Smart City

    One major road that will run north all the way to the Redondo Peninsula is a 35-km multimodal expressway from Tipo in Subic passing through Castillejos. Redondo is where Dino plans to convert 3,000 hectares of the narrow 15-km long rugged peninsula into a new industrial park he has designated as Subic 2 or “Smart City.”

    To the south of Subic Bay is Morong where Dino plans to build Subic 3, which he has christened “Green Zone.” It would be home to non-tech industries and, in his words, a “Mecca for commercial, financial investment and academic locators.”

    With “Smart City” and “Green Zone” as the centerpiece of his economic vision, Dino said Subic “would become one of the most exciting locations for business not only in the Philippines but all of Southeast Asia, and maybe Asia and the Pacific.”

    He also plans to upgrade the Subic Bay International Airport to turn it into a regional transshipment hub and air terminal for tourists, guests, investors and junket operators for tourism- and entertainment-related events.

    Since taking over the SBMA in late September, Dino said has busied himself preparing a blueprint with his economic team.

    Among the big-ticket committed investment portfolios include the $1.5 billion AIA Intermodal (Air & Sea) transshipment and one-stop aviation hub (VIP jet services) for the Asia Pacific Region at the Subic Bay International Airport; $1.0 billion RP Energy, Inc. 600-MW Thermal Power Plant at the Redondo Peninsula; $500 million MSK Group for the development of the Triboa Bay as leisure, resort and entertainment facilities; and the $200 million Jobin-SQM, Inc. 150-MW solar and wind farms at Mt. Sta. Rita.

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