MANILA, Philippines – Commercial activity and rapid real estate development are running close on the heels of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) upgrading. Some 7000 hectares are now under development, including a new metropolis within the Laguna-Batangas corridor. LiMA Technology Center (LTC), a township project astride the boundary of Lipa City and Malvar, is already showcasing the early benefits of public-private-partnership (PPP) in the SLEx road network.
LTC covers 7,000 hectares divided into an export processing zone, a general trade zone, residential, commercial and leisure areas. Its large locators are undergoing sizeable widening of their facilities to accommodate expanding operations.
Kahn Sato, vice president for marketing of LiMA Land, reports that 30 days after the opening of the SLEx extension to STAR Tollway in Sto. Tomas, Batangas, they have cut travel time from Batangas to Manila by half an hour, and are saving on fuel cost as well.
“It used to take us 90 minutes from Manila to the LiMA Technology Center in Batangas. But with the upgrading of SLEx, this has been reduced to just one hour,” said a smiling Mr. Sato. “Our locators make faster turn-around and, of course, get bigger efficiency in their fuel consumption.”
Aside from the obvious savings, improved transport has also reduced the decades-long threat of missed shipping deadlines due to traffic congestion. Part of the risks taken by exporters are paying stiff penalties for delayed deliveries and having to air-freight the cargo at nearly triple the shipping cost.
LTC is home to multinational companies, among them Epson, Yamaha and LittelFuse. About 9,700 workers are employed by firms within LTC.
Still, Sato expects more development within LTC since the SLEx rehabilitation and link to STAR, which was pre-conditions of potential locators, is now fully operational.
He also anticipates a more vigorous tourism industry in Southern Luzon. “Countries like Thailand made tourism a huge source of revenue,” he said, emphasizing that “…one of the keys is those countries developed their infrastructure by building modern airports, ports and roads.”
Studies prove Sato right. Of 134 countries surveyed, the Philippines placed 118th in infrastructure development.
And private sector partnership was recognized as the main catalyst for government to improve in this crucial sector.
Other ecozone locators note that since the formerly 4-lane SLEx was widened to 8 lanes, cargo-carrying trucks and haulers plying the 36 kilometers from Sto. Tomas to Alabang are much safer even at night.
“Well SLEx is lighted now,” explained SLTC spokesperson Alma Tuason, adding it’s the first time in 30 years. “There are also 82 video cameras watching every inch of the expressway. Traffic controllers can dispatch emergency response units to any motorist in distress even before he calls.”
She said the travel time will be shortened even further when the on-going Skyway flyover construction is completed and Skyway’s ground level road is restored to its original width.
“Traffic builds up when vehicles from our 4 northbound lanes start funneling through the currently narrowed lanes beyond our boundary in Alabang Viaduct,” Tuason said. “This should be relieved soon since the Skyway construction may finish ahead of schedule.”
Sato, who in June 2010, urged then President Gloria Arroyo to open the SLEx extension to traffic on the day it was completed, now appeals to government to open the Batangas port as an alternative to the ports of Manila.
Cargo haulers agree with him that it is easier to go through SLEx to the Batangas port than through city traffic to and from the Manila port areas.
Saturday, 12 February 2011