Singson sticks to Calax completion target despite hitch in project award

by Lorenz S. Marasigan, BusinessMirror

Posted at Aug 14 2014 09:21 AM | Updated as of Aug 14 2014 05:21 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The chief of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) sees no delays in the completion of the P35.42-billion Cavite-Laguna Expressway despite a two-month hiatus in the deal’s awarding.

Public Works Secretary Rogelio L. Singson said in a chance interview that the recent delays in the contract’s granting poses no significant effect to the project’s timeline.

“The delays would not eat up the construction period. Two months’ worth of delays would has no bearing to the construction. The concessionaire can hasten the building of the expressway and meet the deadline,” he told select reporters on late Tuesday.

The expressway is expected to be completed in three year’s time.

The multibillion-peso contract is currently in limbo, pending the decision of President Aquino on the appeal of disqualified bidder Optimal Infrastructure Development Inc.

The petition, submitted in June, has stalled the awarding of the contract by almost two months already.

The infrastructure arm of San Miguel Corp. (SMC) asked the President to reconsider its bid, which was pronounced disqualified by the public works agency due to a defective bid security.

In response, the executive branch ordered the firm to submit a memorandum of appeal which contains a concise explanation of the group’s stance.

The Palace also issued a 30-day stay order on June 30 against the resolution of the public works department that barred Optimal from joining the auction as a result of a defective bid security

Its financial proposal was opened in front of reporters during the bidding, revealing that the firm is offering to build and operate the expressway with a premium of P20.105 billion.

The proposal was P8.45 billion higher than the P11.65-billion premium offer made by Team Orion which emerged as the front-runner during the bidding following the disqualification of Optimal.

“We are waiting for a decision from Malacañang. We hope it will come out soon. We’ve been asked to suspend further action on the matter,” Singson said.

The project is a 47-kilometer thoroughfare that would start from the Manila-Cavite Expressway in Kawit, Cavite, and end at the South Luzon Expressway (Slex) -Mamplasan Interchange in Biñan, Laguna. It would consist of nine interchanges and a toll barrier before the SLex.

The third public-private partnership project under the DPWH, the expressway is seen to decongest traffic along the Cavite-Laguna road network.

Construction of the multibillion-peso expressway is seen to start by October next year. It is expected to be completed by September 2017.

Since the infrastructure program’s inception in 2010, the government has awarded seven contracts so far.

The government hopes to finish at least seven projects before President Aquino steps down from office in 2016.