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Opinion

CCLEX, a testament to Cebu’s economic strength

BAR NONE - Atty. Ian Vincent Manticajon - The Freeman

The Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) is set to open tomorrow April 27, coinciding with the 501st anniversary of the “Kadaugan sa Mactan” or the triumph of Lapu-Lapu’s forces over Magellan’s in 1521. President Rodrigo Duterte is set to lead the opening ceremony of Cebu’s newest iconic landmark.

Spanning 8.5 kilometers, CCLEX connects the southern part of Cebu City through the South Road Properties (SRP) to the island of Mactan through Cordova town.

The CCLEX is a testament to the strength and resiliency of Cebu’s economy. I say that because CCLEX is a joint venture between the Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) and the local governments of Cebu City and Cordova.

The agreement was signed on April 15, 2016 during the administration of President Noynoy Aquino, after a successful feasibility study was done in 2015 by Parsons Brinckerhoff. According to the CCLEX website, the agreement led to the creation of the Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corporation (CCLEC), a subsidiary of MPTC, to oversee the project.

This was followed by a concession agreement on October 3, 2016 giving CCLEC the exclusive right and authority to undertake the financing, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of CCLEX for a period of 35 years.

MPTC is the toll road arm of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), a publicly-listed infrastructure holding company that forms part of the MVP Group of Companies. Also involved in the project is Cebu Link JV, a consortium composed of Spanish company Acciona Construccion S. A. and Filipino companies First Balfour and D. M. Consunji Inc., all with reputable records in major infrastructure projects.

In other words, no reputable private company in its right mind will build a multi-billion bridge if it is not assured of a good return on investment. That’s the reason why I say that CCLEX is a testament of Cebu’s solid economic fundamentals.

It’s a beautiful bridge by any standard and from all angles. But the CCLEX consists not just of the main bridge itself but also its connecting viaducts, causeways, on-and-off ramps, and toll facilities. To be operated as a toll expressway, the CCLEX has two lanes in each direction and a 51-meter navigational clearance for shipping traffic. “With its design speed of 80 kilometers per hour, CCLEX is expected to serve at least 50,000 vehicles daily,” according to the company’s official statement in its website.

A week ago, I already had an RFID sticker installed on my car for the bridge’s electronic toll collection system. But the app that users will supposedly use to load money into their toll payment account still does not work for CCLEX transactions. Reports state that toll payment will be on cash basis at the toll gate since the automated toll collection will be available in June yet.

One primary advantage of private and public sector partnership in infrastructure projects is that it knows no political patronage usually associated with purely government projects. We’ve seen enough non-essential edifices in this country built because a city, province, or its local officials are close to Malacañang. Limited public resources are not applied to where they can give maximum economic impact or returns. But when reputable stakeholders in the private sector are involved, projects only get clearance after a thorough feasibility study showing their economic viability.

Not all private-public partnerships, however, are beneficial to the public, especially those that involve basic services to the masses like the Carbon public market. But that’s another story.

Meanwhile, kudos to CCLEC, MPTC, and the national and local governments for the opening of CCLEX tomorrow.

CEBU-CORDOVA LINK EXPRESSWAY

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