SBMA eyes P140B projects

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chairman Martin B. Diño disclosed the multi-billion-peso big-ticket projects the agency will be undertaking in anticipation of the upsurge of foreign investors by next year.

In a recent meeting with the press, Diño said that he will be sending to Malacañang his budget proposal in the amount of P140 billion (US$2.8 billion) to fast-track six major projects he intends to implement during his term as SBMA chairman.

“Before I came here, the president (Duterte) instructed me to improve and make Subic the best investment area in Asia. But how can I achieve that when there is no area that I could offer to new investors?” Diño asked, adding, “I have to find new land.”

He said that after surveying and studying the geographic location of the Freeport, Diño was able to identify a 3,000-hectare industrial zone that can be potentially developed at the back of South Korean shipyard Hanjin Heavy Industries Corporation at Redondo Peninsula, Subic, Zambales.

He further stated that there is more than enough land for investors at Redondo, but infrastructure such as roads and bridges should be built first to make it accessible via Subic Freeport to the new industrial zone in Zambales.

Diño explained that the “big ticket projects” include the construction of four major roads and bridges that would cost around P126 billion (US$2.52 billion), and eventually shorten the travel time of cargo trucks and passenger vehicles to and from Northern Luzon and Metro Manila.

First on the list with a proposed budget of P11 billion (US$220 million), is the construction of a 17.273 kilometer bypass road that would connect the Subic container terminals to Subic-Clark-TarlacExpressway (SCTEX) without passing the busy commercial and leisure areas of the Freeport.

Second, with a proposed budget of P22 billion ($440 million) is the 25.73 kilometer Tipo-Castillejos By-Pass Road which will also include the construction of seven bridges. The by-pass road will be connected to Tipo Road at the exit of SCTEX and run directly to Castillejos, Zambales by-passing heavy traffic in Olongapo City and Subic, Zambales.

Third, with a proposed budget of P91 billion ($1.82 million) is the construction of a 65-kilometer multi-modal expressway that would directly connect Subic Freeport to Manila.

And fourth, with a proposed budget of P2 billion ($40 million) is theTipo-SCTEX Road Widening project which aims to improve the capacity of Tipo Road. This will entail adding another lane on both sides of the road with the improvement of the existing tunnel and the construction of an additional tunnel.

These projects, according to Diño, should provide easy access to and from Subic Freeport for both cargo haulers and tourists, especially those coming from or going to North and Central Luzon, as well as Metro Manila.

“These infrastructure projects will bring Subic Freeport and other centers of commerce in Luzon area closer to each other,” he said, noting that travel time from point-to-point will be greatly shortened, making development faster and easier, while at the same time helping decrease the volume of vehicles plying major roads of Metro Manila that cause traffic crisis.

“Where these roads pass, expect rapid economic growth which means more jobs being created and more revenue being collected. There will be more progress for everyone,” he added.

Meanwhile, to maximize the economic benefits brought about by the new roads, SBMA is also proposing the construction of additional container terminals and the expansion of Naval Supply Depot here.

According to Diño, he is proposing the construction of New Container Terminal 3 and 4 in the amount of P10 billion (US$200 million) which will the constructed parallel to the existing NCT 1 and NCT 2.

The Naval Supply Depot, which mostly serves as storage facility for bulk grains and other non-containerized cargoes, is being proposed for expansion and improvement in the amount of P4 billion (US$80 million).

Diño said that he has coordinated with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to seek its endorsement to Malacañangfor the approval of the proposed projects.

“We have already sent a memorandum to NEDA seeking its endorsement to Malacañang so that we could go ahead and fast track these big ticket projects and complete them the soonest possible time,” he said. – MHIKE R. CIGARAL