Tuesday, 26 May 2009

SLEX firm gets ultimatum

Elaine Ramos Alanguilan
Manila Standard

Trade Secretary Peter Favila has given South Luzon Tollways Corp. up to June 30 to complete the civil works on the rehabilitation and widening of the entire stretch of South Luzon Expressway.

Favila said he had told MTD Capital Bhd of Malaysia, majority shareholder of South Luzon Tollways, to abide by its revised deadline to finish the rehabilitation work to avoid reprimand from the government.

The company earlier said it would complete the rehabilitation and widening of the entire stretch of the toll road up to Calamba by the end of 2008. The project’s delay has slowed down traffic and the movement of goods and services from Metro Manila to Calabarzon, where a good number of the country’s export industries are located.

Favila said he also met with the stakeholders of the tollway project earlier this month, including Indonesia’s PT Citra, the proponent of the Skyway project; state-owned Philippine National Construction Corp., which represents government stake in the projects; and the Toll Regulatory Board.

Favila said he inquired about the status and timelines of the projects. South Luzon Tollways told Favila that over 96 percent of the toll road project had been completed.

Favila said he also gave South Luzon Tollways to complete the connection between Calamba and the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road, or STAR, by September this year.

He told South Luzon Tollways that he would only look into its request for fiscal incentives from the Board of Investments once the rehabilitation and widening of the toll road was completed.

“I would like to emphasize that the grant of incentives is not mandated by law, it is upon the discretion of the BoI board,” said Favila, who is also chairman of the BoI.

Another source of traffic delays is the planned transfer of the existing toll booths into the new toll plazas.

“I am warning motorists to expect the worse to come in terms of traffic in SLEX. We are telling the motorists to manage their travel time,” said Favila.

He said toll collections in the meantime would have to be done manually in the exits pending the transfer to the new plazas.

He said it would take about two days to transfer each toll booth. With about 74 toll booths covering the entire stretch of the toll road from Alabang to Calamba, it would take 150 days to complete the transfer.

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