Modern and efficient infrastructure projects are the ideal landscape for an expanding economy.
They connect the countryside to major urban centers and, thus, bridge the income gap, lead to the creation of new economic hubs, and provide more job opportunities.
The government vowed to build more road and bridges over the next six years to address the perennial traffic congestion in highly-urbanized areas in the country as well as revive the Philippine economy from the global pandemic.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has ordered Public Works Secretary Manuel Bonoan to prioritize the implementation of ongoing projects, especially unfinished bridge projects and critical infrastructure that will address traffic congestion, and promote interregional connection.
“We will put priority on projects that would contribute to the immediate turnaround of our economic recovery, and this means focusing on ongoing projects that are very vital in transportation continuity,” he says.
Bonoan said the weak connection between the centers of economic activities has been an obstacle to economic development and a cause of the increasing income disparity between urban and rural areas.
“Expanding the country’s highways and expressway network will alleviate over concentration of population and development in the urban areas and will give way to regional development,” he added.
Under the ‘Build Better More’ of President Marcos, the government committed to spend some five to six percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) for infrastructure annually between 2023 and 2028.
Bonoan said the government aims to further increase the country”s standard highways and expressway from 510 kilometers to 1,816 kilometers.
From July 2016 to May 2022, the DPWH has constructed, maintained, widened and improved a total of 40,080 kilometers of national roads, 6,854 national bridges and 13,917 flood-control projects.
“We will fast track the completion of the projects under the Luzon Expressway Network Program to reduce travel time from Ilocos to Bicol from 20 hours to 9 hours,” he says.
Bonoan said the government would also prioritize the construction of more bridges crossing Pasig River, Marikina River, and Manggahan Floodway to improve the logistics network of Metro Manila.
“We shall see to it that the inter-island mega bridges with on-going construction will be fully completed,” he added.
The agency will build infrastructure that supports the development of priority tourism areas to jumpstart the growth of the emerging destinations.
“This should enable areas around the country to better prepare in the resurgence of arrivals of domestic and foreign tourists, as COVID-19 becomes endemic from pandemic,” Bonoan said.
“We will build more tourism infrastructure to further enhance the experience and entice tourists to explore and spend more, for the benefit of micro small, and medium enterprises in the localities, creating more jobs and income for everyone,” he added.
The government has vowed to enhance linkages towards seaports, airports and railways stations to further integrate infrastructure across modes of transport supporting all industries in the country.
“To ensure food security, the government will be building more inclusive and sustainable farm-to-market roads based on a comprehensive network plan,” Bonoan said, adding access and connectivity to priority irrigation areas will also be improved.
Bigger railway network
In terms of railway network, Bonoan said the government aims to improve the total passenger experience in Metro Manila’s existing railway lines by implementing expansion and reliability improvement programs with the cooperation of the current and future railway operators.
“We will also prioritize the early completion of the on-going railway projects to further expand the total rail network of the country,” he added.
The government targets to increase the total route length of the country’s railway from 77 km in 2016 to 1,209 km.
The country’s railway length of 77 km is the shortest among major Asian cities, including Jakarta’s 170.2 km., Seoul’s 490 km., Tokyo’s 700 km. and Shanghai’s 690 km.
The government will also prioritize programs and projects that will further accelerate the build-up of digital infrastructure in the country and expand digital technologies and transformation efforts for good governance.
“The government will also intensify its efforts to implement programs that will ensure that the country will have a sustainable, secure, sufficient and accessible energy,” Bonoan said.
“Despite all these infrastructure developments, we have to balance progress without compromising the environment. The government will also strengthen is efforts to promote active transport by building more pedestrian infrastructure and bike lane networks,” he says.