What a difference five years can make. Recall that we have always heard policy planners, government technocrats and economists say that we have a 25 year, some say 40 year gap in transport, water utility, power and road network infrastructure. Having a low creditworthy standing and a bankrupt treasury was no help at all. Then, in the course of cutting costs, infrastructure planning in the major Executive branch Departments was relegated to the back-burner as crisis management was the daily call. After all, it would have been a waste of time to plan road, water and power networks for the future, if the government cannot finance it. It'll just turn obsolete with no chance for implementation. Hope lay elsewhere.
Enter the BOT or Build Operate and Transfer. With BOT, planning and finance was taken over by the private sector. So government sat on its hands, waiting for unsolicited proposals - to be subjected later to Swiss Challenge - to land on its lap. But that wasn't good enough for the incoming Pnoy administration who first wanted to go through all past contracts with a fine tooth comb to try to squeeze a better deal and drop the corrupted ones. Coupled with low international interest rates, thanks to Quantitative Easing, the incoming administration's “Hyatt Ten” finance whizz-kids were no longer afraid to borrow money as it perceived that business optimism was at an all time high. Thus, it prodded the line Departments to dream again, to fill those empty filing cabinets with plans and projects that would make us catch up in the near future. Baby steps and all, we now have the PPP. It may have taken a while to gather steam but it is well on its way to become the main prime mover for all infrastructure.
Watch list, now
We've already emphasized before the importance of being meticulous, being thorough in doing homework and in considering all the doomsday scenarios. Recently, we listed down considerations for projects that are up for bidding and/or awarding, to wit:
CALAx : is there an expressway link between Mamplasan SLEx and the proposed LLDEx [Laguna Lake Dike Expwy]?
MCX: or Daang Hari. Will there be an expressway link to CAVITEx?
C-5- CAVITEx link: Will there be a link with the SLEx west service road and the Intermodal transport terminal in the former FTI Taguig?
LLDEx: will there be a link with SLEx Calamba to the south and the new C-6 Metro Manila Expressway, Skyway Stage 1 in Bicutan?
Plaridel-Cabanatuan by pass highway: When will this road be turned over to a project proponent to make it a toll expressway leading to Cabanatuan?
Watch list, next
In another recent development, Sec. Abaya of the DoTC has outlined the push to drastically expand mass transit to get the poor to abandon tricycles and jeepneys in favor of rail or BRT. And also for private car owners/commuters to do likewise. Hence;
North South commuter rail, Tutuban Malolos-Elevated commuter narrow gauge railway: will it link to the proposed high speed Clark-NAIA wide gauge railway? Will it run side by side on the PNR RROW [rail road right of way], the elevated NLEx Metro link connector and NLEx Harbor Link Segment 10.
South Line, Tutuban to Calamba: will it have links to NAIA? Will it have links to
Subway from Makati CBD-MOA-BGC : how will it not worsen flooding in the area where it will be passing through - the area bounded by Pasong Tamo, EDSA, FB Harrison, Quirino Ave. and San Andres - the most flood prone zone of the Metro as rainfall takes a long time to drain through canals leading to Manila Bay? With all those infra projects in the South Super Highway [Skyway stage 3] the area's flood risk has further deteriorated. But is there space for many of those super sized underground cisterns pioneered by DPWH Sec. Singson in the Fort? Again, any access to NAIA, at least? Are the station platforms designed to allow trolley luggage to be checked at airport levels of security? With out causing long lines? Are the trains designed to allow airport bound passengers from CBD to roll on their luggage from train to plane?
BRT- Bus rapid transit; can it replace busses and jeepneys in most if not all Metro transport routes? Will it be electric, run from overhead catenary system? Will it run in the opposite direction of main carriageway traffic i.e. right hand drive with curb side doors? Will it have elevated curb bus stops to prevent indiscriminate loading/unloading? Will it utilize high capacity bendy buses and double deckers? Will it be structured in such a way that the BRT provider is paid to concentrate only on bus trip frequency and journeys while a separate company takes care of ridership and fare collection? Can the PHILTRAK system, our own home grown all Philippine made BRT before even BRT was popularized by Bogota and Curitiba, be applied? When the BRT system is up and running, can the deregulated tricycles be banned if they do not have dedicated terminals in the zones they operate? Can it also supplant the stretched high capacity mongrel Jeepney on all its routes?
Watch list, soon
And of immediate dispatch in the Metro, the following DPWH projects:
Congressional Ave. to Mindanao Ave. elevated viaduct: to be built on EDSA as a “Y-shaped” access flyover, this EDSA flyover channels traffic from Congressional EDSA leading to Mindanao Ave. descending on North Avenue. It also provides access for traffic from West Avenue, crossing EDSA into North Ave. Will it avoid the railway tracks of LRT-1, MRT-3 and MRT-7? Will it leave space for LRT-1-MRT-3 joint SM City-Trinoma station? Will it leave space for MRT-7 station?
Quezon Ave to Dario Bridge. Elevated viaduct; to be built on EDSA from Quezon Ave. EDSA to Dario Bridge EDSA, past the EDSA Roosevelt junction. How will this long flyover avoid the MRT-3 Trinoma station and the LRT-1 Roosevelt station?
Buendia underpass tunnel from Paseo de Roxas to Makati Ave. Will construction of this entirely shut down Buendia, and thereby access to and from EDSA, Makati CBD, BGC and Jupiter street?
The cure should not be the disease
These concerns must be attended to and integrated into any design, construction, flood mitigation and traffic rerouting plans even before the first shovel of earth is excavated for pile boring and soil testing. We wouldn't want to create traffic and floods more than that which we are trying to alleviate.