By Emmie V. Abadilla
The government will develop the Clark International Airport on its own then bid out the operations and maintenance contract afterwards to avoid lawsuits from losing bidders and fast-track the project.
Hence, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) will no longer entertain unsolicited proposals for Clark, Secretary Arthur Tugade yesterday declared in a statement issued to reporters.
He “prefers that the government first develops Clark Airport, rather than risk delays in the event a bidding involving private sector players would lead to litigation that would eventually place the project on hold.”
The DOTr will inform the consortia of Megawide-GMR and JG Summit-Filinvest, who both signified interest in the multi-billion peso Clark International Airport Public-Private Project, about this “new policy.”
Building the Clark International Airport now falls under the jurisdiction of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and remains to be one of the priority infrastructure projects of the Duterte administration, according to the DOTr secretary.
The BCDA targets to open the new terminal by 2019.
A couple of months ago, the DOTr released the R6.6 million first tranche of the R2.8-billion funds for the new terminal building project of the Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC).
The pre-construction activity funds have been released to CIAC for the procurement of consulting services for the detailed engineering, design and construction management services for the new terminal building of the Clark International Airport (CRK).
The DOTr was appropriated with R800 million and R2.09 billion in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2015 and 2016, respectively, for the CRK project’s first phase this year.
Earlier, the DOTr and CIAC entered into a memorandum of agreement for the downloading of said funds for three horizontal civil works project which are components of the Clark airport project.
The construction of a new Clark airport terminal the first of four design phases for domestic and international travelers with an 8-million-passenger capacity is included in CIAC’s Master Development Plan and will be finished before the term of President Rodrigo Duterte ends.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Chambers of Commerce of the Philippines (JFC) expressed support to develop CRK as the viable alternative to the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
“The geography of (Metro) Manila just doesn’t support (NAIA) where it is, and is not long-term viable,” stressed Ebb Hinchliffe, Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce.
The new airport terminal in Clark should be built in the next two years, with a non-stop fast train connecting service similar to that in Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Tokyo to elevate traffic congestion, AmCham senior adviser John Forbes maintained.
“Clark should be the proper alternative and the idea of decongesting (Metro) Manila should be moving the industries and the government offices either north or south of the metropolis,” added Benjamin Solis, Chief Executive Officer of South East Asian International (SEAIR).
Last year, CRK serviced 950,732 passengers and projects to service 1.5 Million passengers by end of 2017.
To date, CRK has 138 weekly international flights and 94 weekly domestic flights, expected to increase with the expansion of operations of domestic carriers such as PAL, Cebu Pacific Air, Air Asia, Wakay Air, and SEAIR Philippines.
Negotiations are also ongoing for international carriers to start operations at Clark airport by mid-2017.