MANILA, Philippines - The construction of an elevated highway from Buendia to Balintawak as proposed by the San Miguel Corp. (SMC)-backed Citra Metro Manila Tollways Corp. will not only solve traffic congestion in busy EDSA but would also provide added convenience to motorists in terms of faster travel time and lower tariff, not to mention the benefit to the Philippine government from zero subsidy.
“It is worth noting that our project does not require government subsidy and our end-to-end tariff is significantly lower than the unsolicited connector that was proposed by another group,” CMMTC president Shadik Wahono said.
Called the SMC-Citra alignment, the initial six-lane toll road project is only 14 kilometers end-to-end and if motorists travel 80 km per hour, they can traverse the entire stretch in 10.5 minutes. “Motorists would be able to enjoy substantial gasoline savings, enough to pay for the tariff, versus travelling 1.5 hours in EDSA especially during peak hours,” Wahono noted, adding that “faster travel time means improved productivity and more quality time that can be spent with families and loved ones against getting stuck in traffic.”
Once completed, residents in Manila, and Quezon City from Quirino Ave., Plaza Dilao, Aurora Bouleverd, E.Rodriguez, Quezon Boulevard, Sergeant Rivera and Balintawak, will experience seamless movement around Metro Manila. “For instance, residents living near Balintawak can be in Makati or the airport in just 10 minutes, enjoying the similar swift movement now experienced by residents in Alabang,” Wahono said.
In contrast, the proposal submitted by Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) requires longer travel time for motorists who have to contend with slow-moving cargo trucks and narrower four lanes. In terms of physically linking SLEX & NLEX, MPTC would need to complete segments 9 & 10, a total distance of over 8 kms, in order for its so-called 13.2 km unsolicited connector road to complete the connection between SLEX to NLEX. The total distance of segments 9 & 10, and the unsolicited connector is approximately 22 kms, and motorist coming from Quirino may only exit in Espana, 5th Avenue, or Mindanao Avenue.
“According to MPTC and the planning department of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), total project cost for segments nine and 10 would be P10 billion and government will have to shoulder a minimum subsidy of P4 billion for these two segments for road right of way (ROW),” Wahono said.
CMMTC said that aside from the initial agreement with the Philippine National Railway (PNR) to study the viability of the unsolicited connector which starts in Quirino Avenue and end in 5th Avenue, MPTC’s project cost of P17 billion does not include the following important components which the government may need to shoulder - the road right of way, Home Guarantee Corp.’s Air Rights and relocation of informal settlers along the PNR. These would require another P6.8 billion in subsidy on the minimum, bringing total project of the 13.2 km connector road to over P25 billion.
It emphasized that in total, MPTC’s connector road including segments 9 and 10, would have a total project cost of over P35 billion and would need a total Government subsidy of over P10 billion.
SMC-Citra’s proposed toll road will have a significantly lower cost of P25.4 billion without subsidy from the government.
Wahono explained that based on MPTC’s own submissions, its connector road will charge P9 per lane kilometer or a total amount of approximately P119 for the 13.2km stretch of Quirino to 5th Avenue above the PNR tracks. However, since motorists would also need to traverse segments 9 & 10, with a total distance of another 8 km, under an open-system of charging similar to NLEX today, motorists would need to pay an additional P45 to use segments 9 & 10, bringing total tariff for motorist to P164,” he added.
“It is therefore MPTC’s segments nine and 10 that will spell the big difference in toll rates,” Wahono said. Instead of MPTC charging the average price of P3 per lane kilometer similar to NLEX today, or a tariff of only P24 for segments nine and 10, MPTC will charge similar to Segment 8.1 or Mindanao Avenue, or Balintawak entry where class 1 vehicles pay a flat fee of P45. Compare this to Citra’s P7 per lane kilometer, which translates to a tariff of P99 vs MPTC’s P164 end-to-end, or 65 percent more expensive than the SMC-Citra alignment.
Despite claims of JICA’s apprehension of the better alignment, Wahono said that all it takes is one look at the map to appreciate the clear and plain advantage of the SMC-Citra Toll Road alignment over the MPTC Connector. A regular commuter will immediately know that it will make his commute easier and faster wherever he is coming from and going to, he said.
CMMTC emphasized that in terms of geographic coverage, their alignment has far more larger cities covered including Quezon City, Novaliches, Makati, Caloocan, San Juan, Mandaluyong, Pasay & Manila. The MPTC connector, whose access points are limited to three entry and exit points in Espana, 5th Avenue, and Quirino Avenue, are all very difficult to access and would principally serve traffic coming from north (CAMANAVA) to the south.
Wahono highlighted that the SMC-Citra alignment can decongest EDSA and was not a mere bypass road like the MPTC Connector. “In reality, the SMC-Citra project can serve regular commuters while the MPIC Connector can serve cargo trucks,” he said.
He added that MPTC’s Connector will never decongest EDSA because the alignment is not connected to EDSA at any point and there are no convenient entry/exit given that it is situated away from major population centers in Metro Manila where commuters originate.