27 October 2009

BCDA bids out SCTEX

The Bases Conversion and Development Authority is seeking a private sector partner for the privatization of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac expressway (SCTEX), hoping to raise the equivalent of P38.9 billion from the exercise.

The agency made available yesterday the terms of reference of the bidding. A pre-bid conference is scheduled on November 10.

Victor Zablan, chairperson of BCDA’s asset disposition program committee, said in a bidding announcement that the private sector partner will be in charge of the management, operations, and maintenance of SCTEX.

It will also be responsible for the operational funding requirements for SCTEX, including insurance and the provision for the following services: management; collection; traffic safety and security management; toll road maintenance, including greenery and landscaping, and all necessary support services.

In return, the private sector partner will pay BCDA a semi-annual lease/concession fee amounting to the peso equivalent of the yen-denominated loan from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation as well as financing charge of the Department of Finance totaling P38.9 billion throughout the 33.5 years of life of the concession.

The fee is payable to BCDA 10 days prior to its due dates, or 20 percent of the audited gross toll revenues whichever is higher.

JBIC loaned P26 billion to bankroll the project.

In an earlier interview, Zablan said BCDA would begin paying off the loan in 2011, amounting to P950 million to P1 billion annually including interest.

He said the amount could escalate to P1.2 billion once BCDA starts drawing down from a JBIC P7 billion supplemental loan.

That supplemental loan was supposed to finance the interchanges and the cost escalation of the project.

BCDA has so far used up 95 percent of the P19 billion loan.

The 94-kilometer tollroad is not hitting the desired number of users as estimated by a study conducted by Pacific Consultants of Japan, which is 35,000 vehicles per day in the first year of operations, due to high fuel prices last year.

The average number of motorists using SCTEX is seen to more than double to 20,000 a day this year from 8,000 vehicles a day in 2008. SCTEX peaked at 18,000 to 20,000 users a day during the summer months of April and May.

The number of motorists patronizing SLEX is expected to recover in the run-up to Christmas.

Once open, two more interchanges, in Porac and in Floridablanca in Pampanga, will improve the use of SCTEX. (Malaya)