MPTC ‘interested’ to build Metro Cebu Expressway

METRO Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) is interested to join the public bidding for the multibillion-peso Metro Cebu Expressway that will connect the City of Naga in the south of Cebu to Danao City in the north.

This was confirmed by Allan Alfon, president and general manager of the Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corp. (CCLEC), the company that manages the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway that connects Cebu City to Cordova town in Mactan Island.

CCLEC is a subsidiary of MPTC, which is owned by businessman Manuel Pangilinan.

“This (the project) was presented to us years ago, and we said we were interested in bidding since it is subject to bidding because it falls under solicited proposal,” Alfon said.

He said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) had presented the project to them and other private structure groups.

“I think the public bidding will be based on the lowest toll that you can offer,” Alfon said.

Construction of the Metro Cebu Expressway, which will serve as an alternative north-south highway for Cebu bypassing the coastal areas, started five years ago.

So far, only around five kilometers has been completed in the City of Naga as part of the third segment, which covers 17.15 kilometers from Naga to Talisay City.

Last May, then DPWH Central Visayas director Edgar Tabacon had said the government released only P1.3 billion between 2017 and 2021 for the third segment, or P260 million per year, which was why the construction was taking long.

He said if that trend continued, it would take 17 years to complete Segment 3 since Segment 3 is expected to cost P4.5 billion. So he suggested placing the project under foreign assistance (Overseas Development Assistance) or PPP (public-private partnership).

Work on Segments 1 and 2 that span 57 kilometers from Danao City to Talisay City has not been started due to the lack of funding.

The DPWH under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has tagged the Metro Cebu Expressway project as one of its priorities to further develop the economy of Cebu.

Maria Catalina Cabral, DPWH undersecretary for planning and PPP services, said they are preparing the project study that will be submitted to the National Economic and Development Authority for approval.

“Hopefully until first quarter of next year, we can submit the entire documents,” she said.

Once they secure the approval, they will open the project for the participation of the private sector.

The toll road, which aims to cut travel time from Danao to Naga to 50 minutes from three hours, is a solicited PPP project “that involves the construction of an arterial road comprising three segments,” according to the PPP website.

Construction cost has ballooned to P94 billion from the initial cost of P28 billion, the PPP website said. (PAC, PJB)