The issue on the substantially delayed completion of the Tacloban Airport Development will come to a head on August 25, 2023.
The Regional Development Council (RDC) Executive Committee will meet on this day to deliberate on one major issue, whether to endorse the termination of the contract between to the Department of Transportation and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, and MAC Builders and its joint venture partner ML Builders for the construction of the approximately P800 million Phase I of the Tacloban Airport Development Project.
As repeatedly stated in many RPMC meetings and the corresponding Problem-Solving sessions for this Project, the stakes are very high. I have made some computations which show that every year the project is delayed the region losses P7.4 billion in income that can boost the regional economy, improve family incomes, and create thousands of jobs.
The importance of the airport upgrading from domestic to international goes beyond the physical aspects like extending the runway by 400 meters or creating a new passenger terminal building that can accommodate 1,700 passengers, up from the 600 that the present terminal can accommodate.
The economic effects in terms of tourist receipts and, consequently income by businesses and employees whether in hotels, transportation or farms supplying food to the hotels and residences where tourists stay are staggering. To repeat for the sake of proper emphasis so it will sink in and create wide awareness, the estimate is – P7. 4 billion a year.
There can be as many estimates on this as there are estimators. Nonetheless, the point is this: this region will lose billions of pesos a year for every year of delay.
Now, the project is delayed by 15 months and more delays are forthcoming.
An elusive dream?
Will the opening of the international-level airport continue to be an elusive dream for this region? We certainly hope not.
What options are there to facilitate completion?
The one propounded in the proposed RDC resolution to the Department of Transportation and to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines is the termination of the existing contract and choosing a capable contractor who can implement the project on time and who can recover lost time, so the project gets back to its original schedule, which is to open as an International Airport by December 2025.
Dapat may managot!
The present negative slippage of 38 percent is way, way overboard, and simply unacceptable. What has occurred is tantamount to criminal negligence, to say the least, that has damaged the lives of the people of this region. May dapat managot dito!
But equally important is getting the project back on its schedule to prevent further damage to the economy which, may I repeat runs to several billion pesos for every year of delay.
This project is a game-changer like no other project in Eastern Visayas currently. It must not be further delayed. If inevitable, the additional delay must be kept to a bare minimum.
The project needs to be rescued.
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