Some things to look forward to

BIZLINKS - Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) - November 26, 2020 - 12:00am

With just a little more than a month before yearend, commuters in Metro Manila had been looking forward to the completion of the whole Skyway stretching from Susana Heights in the south to the North Luzon Expressway in Caloocan City.

It is unfortunate that the recent accident by EEI Corp. at the Skyway Extension segment has pushed back its target completion from the end of the year to February 2021. Such a costly human error has claimed a life, and caused injuries to several people and property damage.

As safety experts are wont to say, this accident could have been avoided. More than ever, we need to step up training of our construction staff in handling equipment to prevent costly human errors, as what this accident has been attributed to.

For people living in the southern environs of Metro Manila, the extension of the Skyway elevated expressway to Susana Heights and connecting it to the Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway (MCX) has been long anticipated to cut short travel time to the north, especially to Makati where many work.

With more communities rising in the south, commuters using both the tolled at-grade South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and the elevated Skyway have been suffering impeded motoring travel despite paying for fees for some time now. The Skyway extension to Susana Heights was expected to ease some of these traffic woes.

World’s longest flyover

People are also anticipating the completion of the Skyway Stage 3, which in October had been announced by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to be ready for motorists’ use next month. Asphalt laying had been delayed by the recent rains, but this is not significantly seen to delay the opening up of the Stage 3 portion.

When fully operational, both Stage 3 and the Skyway extension in the southern end will extend the elevated road system to 40.84 kilometers, making it one of the longest flyovers in the world. It is truly something that San Miguel Corp. (SMC), the Philippine conglomerate behind the infrastructure project, can be proud of.

It has taken over two decades to bring it to where it is now, a long process that included a few major structural changes in operatorship, endurance by the motoring public when diggings and positioning of pillars were obstructing traffic flow on SLEX, and yes, toll fee rate hikes.

In future, SMC may decide to extend the Skyway farther southwards as more commuter traffic coming from areas beyond Susana Heights builds up. It will be something to look forward to once again.

Citizen watch

Not only is the DPWH regularly providing the public with updates on the progress of the Skyway projects, as well as other infrastructure undertakings all over the country under the government’s Build Build Build (BBB) program, but so too are citizen vloggers.

This citizen watch is a positive activism that has come at a time when Filipinos have been discouraged to indulge in unnecessary travel because of the pandemic. It is not so much a progress audit borne of militancy, but of excitement in seeing projects actually take literally concrete form.

Easy access to video editing suites and drones have made new YouTube sensations of a number of Filipino vloggers who regularly post updates of ongoing infrastructure projects, providing outstanding video captures of the construction status.

If you are one of the 51,500 subscribers of the dmitrivalencia Youtube channel Pinoy Joyride, you can enjoy viewing historical progress in some of the major BBB road projects across the country. His Facebook page also contains shared photos and videos from friends and followers.

Pinoy Joyride, of course, is just one of a handful of conscientious and avid vloggers and bloggers who provide Filipinos who thirst for news updates of a more visual documentation of BBB projects, supplementing what the traditional media, the DPWH and other concerned government agencies provide.

Outpouring of vaccines

The other development that many of us are now anxiously looking forward to is the news about vaccines that can inoculate billions of people across the globe against the COVID-19, and consequently, bring us all closer to that light at the end of the tunnel.

China was the first country that announced some form of good news, but for lack of more supportive data, could not be taken seriously. More recently, Pfizer with BioNtech reported that its late-stage trials involving 43,000 people showed more than 90 percent effectiveness.

US-based Moderna also bared its vaccine late-stage tests showing a near 95 percent efficacy. Russia had earlier said that its trials with 16,000 volunteers exhibited a 92-percent effectiveness, and was already being allowed for in emergency use within Russia.

If the US-Germany Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine is given the green light, the logistical support needed to bring this to the world would be a nightmare; the vaccine reportedly needs an ultra-cold chain that can keep it at -70 degrees Celsius.

Pfizer has already started manufacture of the vaccine in anticipation of regulatory approvals. Its production of 50 million doses this year is expected to go to the US and UK, both countries now ramping up facilities and logistical transportation that will keep the vaccine at below-zero temperatures.

Pfizer’s vaccine is something that we, in a developing country, can only view from a distance. This would explain why we keep our attention to the vaccine that China and other countries are developing, but which will not require the complex distribution systems that Pfizer’s vaccine demands.

The reality of a vaccine coming soon is still good news, something that comes at a season that Filipinos regard dear and look forward to.

Facebook and Twitter

We are actively using two social networking websites to reach out more often and even interact with and engage our readers, friends and colleagues in the various areas of interest that I tackle in my column. Please like us on www.facebook.com/ReyGamboa and follow us on www.twitter.com/ReyGamboa.

Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 25th Floor, 139 Corporate Center, Valero Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City. Or e-mail me at reydgamboa@yahoo.com. For a compilation of previous articles, visit www.BizlinksPhilippines.net.

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