Thursday, August 25, 2016

Bicol-RDC asks DOTr to 'review and revise' PHP4.8-B Bicol int’l airport design

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 25 (PNA)--The Bicol Regional Development Council (RDC) has adopted Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara’s motion urging the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to “review and revise implementation” of the PHP4.8-billion Bicol International Airport (BIA) project because of technical flaws in its approved feasibility study.

Bichara, who was unanimously nominated as the new Bicol RDC chairperson, has asked the council to endorse his proposed revision on the airport project through the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Inter-agency Coordinating Committee (ICC).

Agnes Espinas, NEDA regional director who presided during the Aug. 17 council meeting, saw no objection from the 47 voting members of RDC composed of Bicol governors, city and capital town mayors and regional directors of various national government agencies.

She said Bichara’s resolution was accepted during the same Aug. 17 meeting and subsequently “endorsed to the NEDA-ICC board and the DOTr.”

A former Representative of Albay, a pilot and owner of a flying school here, Bichara noted deficiencies in the proposed runway, apron and taxiways that do not conform to international norms.

“The airport ramp and taxiways that measure 475 meters in length, 220 meters in width with 25 meters for expansion as stated in the feasibility study is the one under question by Bichara,” said Macario Pavia, head of Albay’s Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO).

Pavia, in an interview Thursday, said the provincial government did not have a hand in the preparation of the airport’s design.

He said the feasibility study was crafted by technical personnel contracted by the DOTC in 2009.

“I would say that we are not building a new airport instead we are just relocating the Legazpi airport facility to Daraga,” Pavia said.

BIA which is also known as the South Luzon International Airport or SLIA is located in Barangay Alobo in Daraga town, some 10 kilometers away from this city.

He said once the project is completed, there would be no further room for airplane carriers to maneuver during arrival and departure due to the limited area at the ramp and taxiways.

Pavia said the design did not even contain airplane tube facilities which is a requirement to meet international airport standards.

He added the said facility should accommodate six to 12 flights a day but the existing design could not hold the potential volume of flight arrivals and departures.

Bichara said he had talked about this problem with former Governor Joey Salceda, now Albay 2nd District Representative.

Salceda in a text message, said he would not yet comment on this as he has yet to verify with NEDA.

BIA will occupy a 148-hectare area with a 2,100-meter runway strip to be equipped with night landing capability and take-off facilities, control tower, passenger and cargo terminal, car park, fire station, and other modern facilities.

Bichara said the BIA project should have been completed this year had the original timetable been followed. Despite the availability of funds, however, there were lapses in the bidding process for the Public Private Partnership project, he added.

Since 2009 up to 2012, the government has been pouring some PHP 1.6 billion for the construction of the airport facility.(PNA) FPV/GVR/MSA/CBD