A quick look into infrastructure developments in the countryside

Visayas Container Terminal in Iloilo — Photo from seatrade-maritime.com

The Philippines, known as one of the fastest-growing economies in Southeast Asia, has set the stage for growth in different sectors, including infrastructure. This growth in infrastructure can be seen in the big investments to such projects across the nation, carrying potentials to growth outside the metropolitan areas and improved quality of life for more Filipinos.

According to a 2023 presentation by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), to ensure progress, infrastructure spending is sustained at 5% to 6% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The present administration has funded approximately P8.71 trillion for infrastructure projects. Moreover, NEDA included 23 new projects, increasing the total number of Infrastructure Flagship Projects (IFP) projects to 185, valued at P9.4 trillion.

Currently, the administration’s Build Better More program includes 197 projects that address different areas including mass transit, railways, road and bridges, airports, seaports, and other infrastructure.

Arsenio M. Balisacan, secretary and vice-chair of NEDA emphasized that their list of IFPs aims to make sure every project gets the support they need to be implemented efficiently.

“Our list of IFPs under the Build Better More Program serves as a prioritization tool to identify high-impact infrastructure projects that require immediate government support. By rationalizing the list, we ensure the implementation of as many important infrastructure projects of high significance as possible,” Mr. Balisacan said in a statement.

“We will continue to monitor, review, and update the list of IFPs as necessary to prioritize the most important infrastructure projects. The NEDA Board is committed to approving measures needed to expedite the implementation of the Build Better More program,” he added.

These projects and more, as listed below, are currently under way to improve economic development and the living standard outside the metro.

Visayas Container Terminal

At the heart of Iloilo City lies a bustling port complex called the Visayas Container Terminal. Spanning to 627 meters and covering 20 hectares of land, it serves as a storage facility for containers and general cargo.

Given the port’s pivotal role in fueling Iloilo’s economic growth, International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) is in the works in upgrading the port’s infrastructure. Through investments, cutting-edge cargo-handling equipment, and terminal rehabilitation, the port complex is on its way to becoming a premier gateway for trade and transportation in this central part of the Philippine archipelago.

Samar Pacific Coastal Road (SPCR)

Aiming to make transportation, particularly the delivery and movement of basic goods and services, much easier, the construction of the Samar Pacific Coastal Road (SPCR) is set to fuel economic progress in Northern Samar.

Last year, Phase 1 of SPCR, completed 11.6 kilometers (km) of road stretch, along with three bridges.

Continuing with Phase 2, the project will progress this year by extending the road to 15 km. This extension will supplement the existing 11.6 km and focus on enhancing the Laoang-Palapag road junction to the Catarman-Laoang road junction.

Additionally, two more long-span bridges are in the pipeline. The first one, Laoang Bridge II, is an 800-meter bridge spanning from Talisay village to Poblacion Laoang. The second bridge, Calomotan Bridge, will be 605-meter long, linking Calomotan to Pangpang villages in Palapag.

Once completed, the SPCR 2 Project is seen to fuel economic growth, connectivity, and tourism in the province.

Davao City Bypass Construction Project

To streamline traffic in Davao City, the city introduced the Davao City Bypass Construction Project, a 45.5-kilometer bypass that will significantly reduce travel time between Toril District and Panabo City from one hour to 49 minutes, benefitting approximately 15,781 daily travelers.

Currently, the construction of contract package I-1 is under way at 44.8% and bypass project aims for 2028 completion.

Sorsogon Port Expansion

Among these developments, plans for a P500-million expansion of Sorsogon’s RoRo network is in the works. The expansion will include a continuous ramp capable of accommodating five to six vessels at once and a backup area to improve queueing and maneuverability efficiency. This development is implemented by the Philippine Ports Authority and is expected to rectify the existing imbalance between Sorsogon and Samar ports.

Currently, Matnog Port in Sorsogon has eight ramps, while ports in Samar have 13 ramps. The expansion of the Sorsogon RoRo terminal is vital, as it serves as a link for transporting passengers and cargo between Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Malolos-Clark Railway

Malolos-Clark Railway is a 53.1-km railway that connects Malolos to Clark International Airport. The MCRP Railway Line is developed as a North-South Commuter Railways (NSCR) project, an initiative under the administration’s Build Better More Program.

As part of the development, it will include building 110 km of primary track with 27 new stations and an underground access point to Clark International Airport, bridges, and viaducts, offering the quickest route to the station and the airport terminal. In addition, to ensure a smooth passenger movement, stations are equipped with elevators, escalators, as well as automatic fare control systems, such as gates, ticket vending machines, data collecting machines, and booking machines.

The development of Malolos-Clark Railway Project is an ongoing project and is expected to finish by 2025.

Integrated Water Resources Master Plan

As part of the infrastructure development agenda this year, the Water Resources Management Office of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) introduced Integrated Water Resource Master Plan (IWRMP).

The comprehensive plan will serve as the national policy for effectively managing water resources in the country, ensuring the everyone has sufficient access to clean water at any given time, especially as the country becomes vulnerable with extreme weathering conditions.

These ongoing projects and much more show how infrastructure development is valued as a key driver of the economy, as well as a key to improving the lives of every Filipino.

“While significant policy reforms have already been put in place to address long-standing constraints to sustainable and resilient infrastructure, we recognize the need for further efforts to boost infrastructure investment and execution. Thus, we will closely monitor our infrastructure flagship projects to ensure they are completed and delivered on time,” Mr. Balisacan added. — Angela Kiara S. Brillantes