JICA says Metro Pacific plan superior; SMC, Citra say theirs is better

By Rainier Allan Ronda and Mary Ann LL. Reyes, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 02 2012 07:27 AM | Updated as of Mar 03 2012 12:24 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A senior executive of the Metro Pacific Tollways Development Corp. (MPTDC) said their proposed road project to connect the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) to the South firm “was superior in many ways” to the Skyway plan of Citra.

This was contested by the San Miguel Corp. (SMC)-Citra which pointed out that its toll road project is meant to decongest EDSA and not to be a bypass.

Luigi Bautista, senior vice president of the Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC), said that in a study conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the design and alignment of MPTDC has been adjudged superior besting other designs, including that of Citra’s Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3.

MPTDC is the holding company of the Manila North Tollways Corp. (MPTC), builder and concessionaire of the 94-kilometer NLEX. MPTDC is a subsidiary of listed Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC), the toll unit of the Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) controlled by tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan.

The proposed Connector Road will connect the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the South Luzon Express (SLEX) via an elevated expressway, or a skyway.

Bautista pointed out that in its study, JICA chose MPTDC’s connector road as “the best among four alternative alignments” considering transport efficiency, initial investment requirement, social and environmental impact, construction difficulty and economic and financial aspects.

On the other hand, Citra president Shadik Wahono said the SMC-Citra project is designed for regular commuters while the MPTC Connector is designed for cargo trucks.

“That’s why our alignment has eight exits (five more than the MPIC connector) - to serve this purpose. You need to accommodate the traffic patterns of regular commuters who have varying points of origin and destination.”

He added that MPTC’s Connector will never decongest EDSA because there are no convenient entry/exit points to serve as alternate route to EDSA and is located away from major population centers in Metro Manila where commuters originate.

“Pure north-south traffic is non-existent. It’s the midpoints that are important,” Wahono said.

Citra noted that both projects will likely involve some level of traffic congestion and inconvenience to motorists but the MPTC Connector will involve the massive resettlement of informal settlers along the Philippine National Railways’ right of way, thus, entailing more delays – a problem not to affect the SMC-Citra project as it will use the median of broad avenues.