Covid-19 news and the coverage of the US presidential elections are understandably dominating newspaper headlines and the airwaves nowadays. Under the radar are the infrastructure accomplishments of the government, which I believe will secure the future of the Philippine economy.
I will reiterate what I wrote in my column last week. Public investment is our way out of this pandemic that has destroyed millions of jobs and derailed our economic growth. No less than the International Monetary Fund urged the revival of delayed infrastructure projects and the construction of new ones to help in the recovery effort. Construction works quickly create jobs while the completion of infrastructure projects provides the foundation for increased economic activities.
Infrastructure spending is not limited to the government sector. The private sector is key to the success of the government’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program. As the IMF noted, public investment encourages the private sector to also invest. Increasing public investment by 1 percent of the gross domestic product bolsters private investment by 10 percent, employment by 1.2 percent and the GDP by 2.7 percent.
Meanwhile, I am pleased to learn that the Department of Public Works and Highways has made great strides amid age-old corruption allegations. Corruption at the DPWH, just like in any other frontline agencies, will not be eliminated overnight. But reforms and the strict enforcement of the rules will slowly eradicate this menace. The DPWH reported that close to 30 contractors have been blacklisted as part of the department’s anti-corruption efforts. The agency’s leadership has taken the challenge to continue fighting harder to stop corruption at the DPWH.
“We have the monitoring systems. So far, all of our projects have geo-tagging so we would know the condition or status of the projects. We continue to remain strict in our campaign,” says the DPWH.
The DPWH, indeed, is doing its part in nation building. One will be amazed at the completion rate of major infrastructure projects under the current administration. Not many are aware that the DPWH has either completed major road networks or been building infrastructure projects without letup despite the mobility challenges posed by the pandemic.
Just recently, the DPWH announced the completion of the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 Expressway that connects the southern and northern part of Metro Manila.
The 18-kilometer elevated expressway linking the two major expressways in Luzon—the South Luzon Expressway and North Luzon Expressway—was completed ahead of the October 31 schedule. With the new toll road, travel from Slex to Nlex will now only take 20 minutes from about three hours. With reduced travel time, the elevated expressway will certainly decongest traffic in Metro Manila by providing a diversion road for Edsa and other major roads in Metro Manila.
Not many people realize that the DPWH has lined up over a dozen roads and expressways projects—all aimed at decongesting traffic in the National Capital Region and improving the flow of goods from the provinces. The DPWH earlier reported the completion of the Nlex Harbor Link Segment 10 project, a 5.58-km, six-lane elevated expressway connecting McArthur Highway and C-3 road. The road uses the existing PNR railroad tracks that cut across Valenzuela City and Malabon City. The completion of this road reduced the travel time from Valenzuela City to C-3 in Caloocan City to just five minutes from more than an hour.
Civil works, meanwhile, are ongoing on the ambitious Southeast Metro Manila Expressway, C-6 (Phase 1) project of the DPWH. The 32.66-km elevated and at-grade expressway project from Skyway and FTI in Taguig City to the Batasan Complex in Quezon City will reduce travel time from Bicutan to Batasan to just 26 minutes from one hour and 50 minutes.
Another completed project is the Laguna Lake Highway, a 6.94-km road with a three-meter-wide protected bike lane, and the additional two-lane Napindan Bridge 2. The completion of these two projects cut travel time from Taytay town in Rizal province to Bicutan to 30 minutes from one hour.
These are among the roads, bridges, airports, railways and seaports that the Duterte administration has built or about to construct under its infrastructure program. Majority of these projects may have gone unnoticed by the public, but the population and the economy will shortly feel their impact.
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