19 January 2016

MPIC unit allocates over P1.5B for SCTEx upgrade

THE TOLLWAYS arm of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) is spending more than P1.5 billion to upgrade the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) over the next three years, saying the upgrade will make it at par with the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx).

“Aside from integrating the two tollways seamlessly, we have lined up a lot of enhancement works for SCTEx,” Rodrigo E. Franco, Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) president and chief executive officer, said in a statement yesterday.

MPTC is the holding company of Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC), which operates the two toll roads.

“These include pavement works, construction of new facilities, and the improvement of the toll collection and communications systems,” Mr. Franco said.

One the integration of the two tollways is completed this year, SCTEx will adopt NLEx’s modern toll collection system, which uses dedicated short-range communication tags, as well as contactless and magnetic cards.

“The MNTC is investing more than P1.5 billion to improve the SCTEX and bring to it all the world-class features of the NLEX. A three-year asphalt overlay project covering the entire 94-kilometer length of the expressway will eventually make the SCTEX’s pavement as smooth as that of the NLEX,” Mr. Franco said.

Motorists will start to feel the improvements during the Holy Week in March, when traffic volume is expected to surge.

The country’s longest four-lane expressway serves around 34,000 vehicles every day, generating an annual revenue of around P1.4 billion, MPTC’s immediate past president Ramoncito S. Fernandez said in November last year.

MPTC said it is installing closed-circuit television cameras and emergency call boxes along the toll road.

“The roadside emergency call boxes will enable distressed motorists to directly and quickly connect to the SCTEX traffic control room. The CCTV cameras, on the other hand, will enable real-time monitoring of the entire stretch of the expressway which, in turn, will allow MNTC teams to respond faster to motorists who may need assistance,” the company said.

There will be additional lights and reflectorized strips to guide motorists at night, variable message signs with updated traffic information, as well two additional restrooms at the Dolores Exit and Luisita Interchange.

“By Holy Week 2016, some physical barriers currently standing between the two tollways will be removed. Motorists will no longer need to stop at Dau and Mabalacat as these will be converted into pass-through lanes,” MNTC said.

The Bases Conversion and Development Authority, the state-run agency that built SCTEx, awarded last year to MNTC the contract to manage, operate and maintain the expressway until 2043.

The 94-kilometer SCTEx passes through the provinces of Bataan, Pampanga and Tarlac. It is linked to the northern tip of 93-kilometer NLEx at Sta. Ines in Mabalacat, Pampanga.

Shares in listed MPIC added four centavos or 0.78% to end Monday at P5.14 apiece.

MPIC is one of three Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and Philex Mining Corp.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld. (Daphne J. Magturo, BusinessWorld)

CARS are seen along the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway. (file, bcda.gov.ph)