15 February 2010

Zambales access to SCTEx pushed

Former public-works secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. has reiterated calls for the construction of an access road from Zambales province to the Subic-Clark- Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), saying the proposed connection is “imperative to help Zambales take off in terms of trade, tourism and economic development.”

Ebdane said in an interview with newsmen here during the launch of the fortnightly local newspaper Headline Zambales that a highway connecting to SCTEx “will revolutionize the pace of development in Zambales.”

“As the SCTEx has made the Subic Bay Free Port and the nearby city of Olongapo more accessible to tourists, traders and investors, so will the proposed SCTEx artery do wonders for Zambales,” said Ebdane, who is eyeing the Zambales governorship in the coming local elections.

The SCTEx access project was first broached by Zambales First District Rep. Mitos Magsaysay in a dialog with community leaders in Castillejos, Zambales, last week.

Magsaysay, whose political clan has allied with Ebdane for the May elections, revealed that the Magsaysay-Ebdane coalition is pushing for the construction of a road that would connect Castillejos to the SCTEx.

Castillejos, the second town in south Zambales after Olongapo City, is considered a pivotal location because it links the Zambales highway to the Hanjin shipyard in Subic’s Redondo Peninsula.

Magsaysay added that the proposed road will also benefit billion-dollar tourism-development projects in the area, which are funded by foreign investors.

Ebdane said the proposed Castillejos- SCTEx connection will most likely branch out from the Floridablanca segment in Pampanga and will be about 40 kilometers long.

“In a little more than 30 minutes, tourists could access Castillejos from SCTEx, and from here, could also visit other places in Zambales,” he said.

Ebdane also noted that the only route to Zambales for tourists from Manila often becomes congested during holidays and other peak seasons.

“An express lane must be made to make Zambales more accessible to foreign and local tourists,” he said. “Rather than going the usual route, which is through Olongapo, tourists could use the express lane to avoid traffic. That way, they would have more time to spend on the beautiful tourism attractions in the province.”

In the Castillejos dialog, the former DPWH head also acknowledged that roads and other public infrastructures are “essential to the modernization of rural areas in the province.” (Henry EmpeƱo, Business Mirror)