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Game changer: Duterte opens Skyway Stage 3
President Duterte and San Miguel Corp. president Ramon Ang unveil the marker for the 18-kilometer Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 from Buendia in Makati to Balintawak, Quezon City which connects SLEX and NLEX. Also at the inauguration yesterday were (from left) Sen. Bong Go, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.
STAR/File

Game changer: Duterte opens Skyway Stage 3

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - January 15, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte yesterday led the opening of Stage 3 of the Metro Manila Skyway Project, saying it would make travel more convenient for motorists.

Duterte said Filipinos have greatly suffered from the “perennial problem” of road congestion in Metro Manila for many years.

“Come to think of it, actually, when all of the Skyway (is) completed, I think the sufferings of the people (would) be cut by about one-third – not really all sufferings, but it will cut the inconvenience and it will make you comfortable,” the President said during the opening of the Metro Manila Skyway Project in Quezon City.

“The successful completion of the Skyway is a testament to the efficiency, reliability and sustainability of our ‘Build, Build, Build’ program. It attests to the endless possibilities that we can accomplish through the dynamic partnership between the government and the private sector,” he added.

Duterte said the hard work and cooperation of the public works department, Citra Central Expressway Corp. and San Miguel Holdings made possible the opening of the 19-kilometer segment of the Skyway which runs from Buendia in Makati to the North Luzon Expressway.

“We now have a continuous 35-kilometer elevated expressway that directly connects Alabang to Balintawak. This, beyond doubt, will significantly contribute to the efficient movement of goods and people from north to south, and within Manila,” the President said.

Duterte assured the public that his administration would continue to pursue its Build, Build, Build program “guided by the highest standards of integrity, transparency and accountability.”

“As we marvel at this great feat, I hope that we in government will be reminded of our responsibility to not only ensure the timely completion of all public infrastructure projects, but also to shield the public from all forms of inconvenience during the construction,” the President said.

Duterte thanked CITRA and San Miguel Corp. for trusting his administration, saying their investment has finally paid off.

“The Skyway shall serve as an enduring edifice of the legacy that we will leave behind for future generations of Filipinos,” the President said.

Duterte criticized again the issuance of temporary restraining orders that delay government projects. He said judges should not “hinder the progress of this country.”

“If you want a clean government, judges, if you are with us, do not, unless it is a compelling reason... Do not do it because we would end up quarreling. It’s either I will not allow you to stop it. You will be embarrassed. I will call you out in public,” Duterte said.

“So I hope that the next president would be as forceful and resolute to confront this almost evil practice of people going around the country, looking for biddings and then distribute the spoils among themselves,” he added.

Duterte ended his speech with a birthday song for SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang, whom he described as his dear friend.

“On behalf of the Filipino people, I thank you for your invaluable contributions to the government’s efforts to forge a thriving and progressive society. Your initiatives in addressing the challenges brought by COVID-19 during the early stages of the pandemic speak well of your genuine desire to help our people. For that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Duterte said.

“It is my hope that your deep sense of patriotism and social responsibility will serve as an inspiration to other captains of industry to actively participate in our shared task of nation-building,” he added.

“Today, the President delivers on his promise to decongest EDSA. This is just one of 25 projects which we will complete under the EDSA Decongestion Program,” Public Works Secretary Mark Villar said.

“When we assumed office in 2016, the congestion level was at 71 percent — the second worst traffic congestion in the world. We were losing 3.5 billion a day due to traffic in Metro Manila. This will no longer be the case in 2022 due to the President’s political will,” he said.

The Department of Public Works and Highways had to relocate 47 National Grid Corp. poles and 1,312 Manila Electric Co. poles to realize this project. Prior to May 2017, only 8.64 percent of right-of-way needed for the entire alignment had been acquired.

“For the first time in Philippine history, expressways operated by different concessionaires interconnect for the benefit of the Filipino people,” Villar noted.

The original alignment of Skyway Stage 3 was realigned to follow the San Juan River in October 2018. The original alignment was deemed not feasible.

Villar also acknowledged the contribution of Citra Central Expressway Corp. to infrastructure development in the country.

A total of P44.66 billion funded under the public-private partnership program was allotted for the completion of the elevated expressway.

Free use of the Skyway Stage 3 would be extended by three days to Feb. 1, Ang said in a Facebook post.

“All access points and seven lanes in select areas will be available to motorists starting Jan. 15 still for free—extended until Feb. 1—so that our motorists can experience and enjoy seamless driving along this engineering marvel over Metro Manila’s congested streets,” Ang said. The project had its groundbreaking back in 2014.

Ang also said the SMC is setting its sights on more projects to address traffic congestion in Metro Manila.

“We will continue work to further decongest Metro Manila by linking east and west of the metropolis, through the Pasig River Expressway (PAREX) project,” he said in a statement.

The P95.40-billion PAREX project is a 19.4-kilometer, six-lane elevated expressway along the banks of the Pasig River.

It will start from Radial Road 10 in Manila and end at a connection to the Southeast Metro Manila Expressway or Circumferential Road 6.

From R10, or the port area, it will have entry and exit points at the University Belt area, San Juan, Buendia, Mandaluyong, Rockwell, Edsa, Pioneer St., Bonifacio Global City, C5, before terminating at C6.

Ang said the project, which can be completed by 2023, would provide a faster alternative access to the business districts of Makati, Ortigas and BGC.

“Because of the strong leadership of President Duterte, and with the help of his hands-on cabinet secretaries and economic team, we were able to finally resolve right-of-way issues and complete Skyway 3,” Ang said.

“This is a game-changer for our economy, especially now that we are still dealing with the pandemic. By providing seamless access between north and south, we also unlock the true potential of our provinces,” he said.

At full capacity, with seven lanes available, Ang said Skyway can easily handle 50 percent of EDSA traffic, or 200,000 vehicles per day.

Together with the existing Skyway 1 and 2, he said the Skyway system now has 38 kilometers of elevated expressway with 36 on- and off-ramp access points.

Meanwhile, Ang said its massive Manila International Airport project in Bulacan province is targeted for opening by 2025. Two major expressways connecting to the airport will also open by 2023.

“All of these will solve our decades-long problem of land and air traffic congestion. Together, we are building the foundation for future economic growth that’s inclusive and sustainable,” Ang said.

“We are also investing in many other industries across the regions, from food and beverage production, agriculture, power security and soon, renewable energy. This is the best way we can meaningfully contribute to nation-building. We are committed to sustainably re-invest what we have, create more business opportunities, generate more jobs, and spread growth across the archipelago,” he said. — Richmond Mercurio, Ralph Villanueva, Jose Rodel Clapano

SKYWAY STAGE 3
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