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23 February 2009

Feature: LUB, SCTEX extends development in Freeport, Zambales

IBA, ZAMBALES—Less than a year into its opening, the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) is fast gaining prominence among tourists and businessmen, and a great number of investors within the Subic Freeport Zone gave nothing but praise to the tollway project.

John Corcoran, president of the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce, Inc. (SBFCCI), said that the SCTEX will provide local and foreign visitors with better and faster access to Subic’s recreational facilities as well as commercial and industrial establishments.

“This is going to have such a positive impact all over the Subic Bay Freeport because the new highway has significantly cut travel time to Subic from Clark and from as far as Tarlac,” said Corcoran.

“I am sure that we will see more development along the Subic-Clark growth corridor,” added Corcoran, who is also president of Ocean Adventure, a popular marine theme park here.

Another Subic investor, Yvett Ocampo-Desiongco, CEO of the newly-opened Subic park Jungle Joe’s World, also expressed confidence that the SCTEX would bring in more business here.

“Subic can now count on more visitors not only from Metro Manila and South Luzon areas, but also those from North Luzon.”

“And the highway is awesome and world-class,” she added, saying the SCTEX reminds her of the highway going from San Francisco to Idaho in the United States.

The SCTEX, which covers a total distance of 93.77 kilometers and touted to be the longest four-lane expressway in the Philippines today, is also expected to open up more investment opportunities along the Subic-Clark growth corridor.

SCTEX: Luzon Urban Beltway’s priority component

A flagship project of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the SCTEX was funded with a loan from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), and is composed of two packages: the 50.5-km Subic-Clark connection, and the 43.27-km span that connects Clark to Tarlac.

The tollway project is the backbone of the Subic-Clark Mega Logistics Hub and a part of the priority infrastructure projects designed for the Luzon Urban Beltway (LUB).

LUB is one of the regions included in the super regions concept eyed to usher development towards the countryside.

“Our resolve to provide the necessary infrastructure for growth and prosperity has heightened investors’ confidence in our ability to slug it out in the global arena…we have billion dollar investments coming in because they have seen us putting money, our own money, our own investment in infrastructure. “

These words, delivered by PGMA during the Luzon Urban Beltway (LUB) Infrastructure Conference at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone in Zambales almost two years ago, sum up the government’s determination to usher development all over the country through the super region concept.

Zambales: Gearing up, cashing in

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Administrator Armand Arreza announced that SBMA has maintained its status as the country’s leading investment agency after posting US$1.1 billion in committed investment employing nearly 70,000 workers this year.

“Our new challenge today is to bring investments to the nearby towns of Zambales and Bataan and Olongapo City. This will be easier now after the President issued Executive Order 675,” Arreza said.

With the EO 675, according to Arreza, new investors who are looking for bigger land area will be allowed to put up investment to other places near the Subic Bay Freeport and Clark areas.

“We are also preparing a plan for the construction of access roads going to some tourist and investment sites in Zambales. There are also new power plants to be built inside the Freeport zone that will provide lower power rates,” he said.

In a similar move, Zambales Governor Amor Deloso has announced that Zambales is gearing towards development as it vows to open major road networks that will connect the province to other economic zones in Northern and Central Luzon.

“There is a need to open new roads to expand the development opportunities of the provinces and maximize its potentials as a new investment site in the region,” said Gov. Amor Deloso.

He identified the new economic doors as the Santa Cruz-Mangatarem Road that will connect the northern town of Santa Cruz with the town of Mangatarem in Pangasinan and the Iba-Tarlac Road which will connect the province to Tarlac.

The roads are necessary to open new space for possible economic zones and to shorten travel going in and out of the province to and from Central Luzon, Northern Luzon and Western Luzon areas.

“The roads will also maximize the use of our Masinloc Port as a major seaport in the area benefiting investors, particularly exporters and importers, from Zambales and Pangasinan,” Deloso said.

The governor noted that the Tarlac-Iba Road, which would span to about 60 kilometers when finished, has already a plan that was approved during the administration of former president Ramos.

“The road will boost the potentials of the Masinloc Port which will be constructed under a built-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme by a Canadian business group to the amount of US$5 billion. When finished, Masinloc Port will become a major transshipment port in the region,” he said.

Meanwhile, the official said that the Mangatarem-Santa Cruz Road Project is about 82 kilometers and could be finished at the cost of P200 million. The road will shorten travel time going to Pangasinan from Iba, Zambales from six hours to about two hours.

Deloso has also announced that discussions have already been started to study the possibility of putting a 500-hectare industrial estate in the former San Miguel Naval Air Stations in San Antonio Zambales.

The proposed industrial zone will fast tract the many development programs of the province to turn the province into a tourism and light industry destination in the region.

“Roads will bind our resources- land, people and infrastructures. Due to the completion of the SCTEX, space for investment in Bulacan and Tarlac is getting scarce. Subic Freeport soon could not accommodate more factories. But Zambales has vast land space to offer and we have pier, ship repair facilities and a small airport for tourism,” Gov. Deloso said.(AMV/PIA-Zambales)

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