SMC infra project on track — Ang
Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - June 25, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines - If you ask tycoon Ramon Ang on the status of San Miguel Corp.’s ongoing infrastructure projects, he will fill you in down to the last detail.

He knows about a portion which was flooded two days before or if there’s an electrical post sticking out of nowhere like a sore thumb. He knows how many motorists don’t like to use RFID or which toll plaza is the busiest.

Indeed, as SMC marks its 10th year of successful diversification into other businesses such as power and infrastructure, Ang, its president and COO, has risen to the occasion – evolving from a beer magnate to one who is knowledgeable on roads and other big-ticket projects.

The key, Ang said, is to not just leave these projects to the contractor but to constantly monitor the progress of construction – everyday, if necessary.

“You cannot leave it to the contractor only, you have to visit it all the time,” Ang said in a recent chat with reporters following the company’s annual stockholders meeting.

So far, SMC’s infrastructure projects are on track to be completed on their respective completion dates unless, unexpected right-of-way (ROW) problems emerge, Ang said.

SMC’s current infrastructure portfolio, through San Miguel Holdings Corp. includes the South Luzon Expressway or SLEX, which runs 36 kilometers from Alabang to Sto. Tomas, Batangas; the elevated Skyway; the 41.9 km STAR Tollway; the 88.85 km Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX); the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Expressway (NAIAX); and MRT-7, a 22-km-long rail line from San Jose del Monte in Bulacan to North Avenue in Quezon City. SMC also owns the Boracay Airport concessionaire, TransAire Development Holdings Corp.

“It will not be on track if you do not visit it everyday. You really have to constantly check it,” he said.

He cited as an example a toll plaza that SMC is building near the airport.

“Tiningnan ko, hindi pala tama yung bangketa, masyadong malapad at yung overpass before the toll plaza, may poste ng kuryente, kelangan ilipat (I checked, the size of the sidewalk was too wide and the overpass, before the toll plaza, there is an electrical post near it. That has to be moved),” Ang said.

Another example is the newly opened NAIA Expressway. Ang said there was a portion that was flooded when it rained days before because concerned agencies were unable to clean the drainage in the area.

“That had to be taken care of,” he said.

Hands-on monitoring is the key to the success of SMC’s infrastructure projects, Ang said, adding that it’s what keeps him busy nowadays.

“There are so many projects, life can’t be boring,” said RSA, as he is widely known, when asked if he ever gets bored.

Despite the hard work, Ang finds fulfillment in seeing the public benefit from SMC’s different infrastructure projects.

“The projects help relieve the traffic. For example NAIA Expressway has really helped those from Cavite, Las Pinas, Paranaque and the people going to the airport, it really helped them,” Ang said.

SMC is targeting the full completion of the Boracay Airport by 2018, which would have an annual capacity of seven million passengers; the full completion of TPLEX also by 2018; and the completion of Skyway Stage 3 and MRT-7 by 2019.

Last April, SMC also signed an agreement with the Philippine National Construction Corp. (PNCC) for the expansion of all tollroads under their joint venture partnership.

Ang said they want to expand all their toll roads to have five toll booths from just one to ease the traffic.

“All our exits, we want to have five toll booths. It’s designed to have just one toll booth but we want to make it five just like (the) immigration (lanes),” Ang said.

Ang also said SMC would continue to push for its proposal to build a new airport in Bulacan to decongest NAIA, the country’s main gateway.

Indeed, Ang is no longer just the beer tycoon; he now knows infrastructure like the back of his hand.

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