Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Salceda expresses dismay over slow construction of Bicol Int'l Airport
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, July 7 (PNA) -- Albay Governor Joey Salceda has expressed disgust over the snail-paced construction of the Bicol International Airport (BIA), which has been delayed for four years and two months now.

Salceda’s reaction came after the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) had given the green light to bid out the Php 1.71-billion the BIA passenger terminal building, runway and site development works.

When asked if he was happy with DOTC’s pronouncement, Salceda said he was unhappy as the project had been delayed for almost three years.

“I’m unhappy since I started this project with DOTC in 2005 when I was chairman of House appropriations committee, but now that is nearing completion, I have to be happy. It should have been completed in May 2013,” Salceda said.

Asked if the new international airport would be completed before President Benigno Aquino's term ends in June, he said the project would be completed in 2017.

“In effect, it would be more than four years -- four years and two months, to be exact -- delayed. The revised target is July 2017. It was reviewed by DOTC for two years after 2010 despite annual mentions in State of the Nations Address (SONA),” the governor lamented.

Up for bidding includes the construction of a passenger terminal building, runway completion, and other site development works in Daraga, Albay.

The project will involve the construction of a 13,680-square-meter passenger terminal building, including an arrival/departure lounge measuring 486 square meters, and construction of a 500-meter runway extension/completion (Portland cement concrete pavement), including runway and safety area.

Site development works include construction of a service road, parking/entrance and terminal road, exterior utilities and related structure for the land side area; and construction of a 7,500-meter perimeter road (asphalt concrete pavement) and 7,000-meter perimeter drainage with detention pond for the air side area.

The approved budget for the contract is Php1.71 billion and the cost of bid documents is Php75,000.

The DOTC said the issuance of bid documents starts July 2 up to July 24, while a pre-bid conference is scheduled on July 10 at 2 p.m.

The submission and opening of bids is set on July 24.

The Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board license requirement is Large B for road, highways, pavement railways, airport horizontal structures and Large B for building or industrial plant.

The Php 3.5 billion BIA is a flagship program of then President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to boost tourism and economic development in Southern Luzon but pursued by President Benigno Aquino III.

The Php 2.2 billion budget for runway, taxiway, apron and perimeter fence is now at 39.2 percent complete as of August and is targeted to be finish this year.

The construction of terminal, however, is delayed due to design inputs to the terminal worth Php1.2 billion and is set for bidding this month.

Salceda, concurrently Bicol Regional Council chairman, asked the DOTC to expedite the construction of the international airport to cater to the increasing number of tourists and boost economic growth here.

“Based on their target terminal construction to start in January and to be completed by July 2017, another delay but we agreed to do a partial opening by May 2016,” the governor said.

He reiterated that Albay needed a new, bigger airport with night landing facilities and international quality since the province's tourism is growing rapidly from 8,700 foreign tourists in 2007 to 339,000 in 2013, leaping by 47 percent in 2012, 66 percent in 2013 and after a flat first quarter, another 52-percent increase last year, he said.

The bureaus of Customs, Immigration and Quarantine and the security are now in place for international flight as the operation of Albay International Gateway has been operating quite efficiently after the Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific chartered flights from Xiamen began here in January and soon from Shanghai and Taipeh/Kaohsiung.

This, after Bicolano business tycoon Elizaldy “Zaldy” S. Co personally worked out for international flight in Bicol in partnership with the Department of Tourism Bicol and Salceda to boost economic growth in the countryside.

Salceda said the BIA could start operations to accommodate more international and domestic flights even with a partial opening of the terminal. (PNA) RMA/FGS/RBB/CBD