November 25, 2020 at 11:50 pm
Rio N. Araja
The Environment department’s Laguna Lake Development Authority on Tuesday backed an unsolicited proposal from a private consortium to rehabilitate and develop Laguna de Bay for P609 billion.
General manager Jaime Medina said the agency’s board had endorsed the proposed development and rehabilitation project “after months of review and evaluation.”
The endorsement came in the aftermath of successive strong tropical cyclones, and of which “Ulysses” caused massive flooding in the National Capital Region, Rizal province and other areas.
“This is a welcome opportunity as this will truly aid in addressing the Laguna Lake’s continual problems in siltation, industrial pollution, sedimentation and lakeshore flooding,” Medina said.
He said the project proponent had been issued “original proponent status” or OPS, and that the project was now under review by the National Economic Development Authority through its Public-Private Partnership Center.
The LLDA endorsement would eventually be evaluated by NEDA’s investment coordination committee to determine the reasonable rate of return and other parameters for negotiation, Medina said.
The NEDA board will ultimately approve or deny the proposal.
Medina says the consortium, after being granted the OPS, now has the authority to match better offers submitted by rivals when a Swiss challenge is undertaken for the project.
The rehabilitation project, which will be undertaken in five to 10 years, includes the dredging of about 800 million cubic meters of silt and mud, assistance to affected fishermen and other stakeholders, and silt transfer and development of pre-identified catchment areas to be done in phases while the dredging progresses.
The unsolicited proposal will be under the build-own-operate scheme, meaning the proponent will finance, build, operate, maintain and own the facility and collect fees and charges to recover its investment.
The government will provide the authorization and assistance in securing the BOO contract, and has the option to buy the output or service provided by the operator.
The consortium is led by Taguig Lake City Development Corp. with two foreign companies as partners that are said to have the experience, expertise and track record to undertake the project.
In December 2019, the LLDA sent a briefer through a memorandum to the Office of the President for the urgent need to rehabilitate the waters of Laguna Lake to sustain and enhance aquatic life, for the critical need to increase and improve the holding capacity and water quality of the lake to gain access to it as a water source, and for the real potential and its outlying areas to enhance water quality and boost socio-economic growth in the region and in the country.
The Laguna de Bay is the largest lake in the country with 100 rivers and streams draining into it, making it prone to flooding.