The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) led by Secretary Mark A. Villar has been fast-tracking the right-of-way (ROW) delivery of major infrastructure projects, according to Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC), the holding company of NLEX, SCTEX, CAVITEX, C5 LINK, CALAX, and the under construction CCLEX.

“During this period of infrastructure growth, the MPTC was able to construct and open four new game-changing expressways—the NLEX Harbor Link, the first section of Cavitex C5 Link, and the Laguna segment of Cavite-Laguna Expressway with a combined length of over 21 kilometers,” said Rodrigo E. Franco, President and CEO of MPTC.

“We are even confident that we would be able to complete an additional 48 kilometers of new toll roads by 2021, which include the NLEX Connector and the other segments of C5 Link and CALAX,” Franco added.

While R.A. 10752 or the new ROW Act was passed in 2015, it was during Secretary Villar’s time that the implementation of the law was improved and made seamless with the issuance of several Department Orders for the fast and efficient turnover of ROW to concessionaires.

MPTC Chief Project Development Officer Raul L. Ignacio noted that one of the significant reforms made by the DPWH was the creation of a task force for the speedy processing of ROW payments.

“In the previous years, MPTC advanced right-of-way payments for the DPWH to ensure that the ROW will be available when our construction team requires new areas to build on. Now, payment processing was expedited and significantly reduced our advances to DPWH—benefitting both the progress of the project and the affected families,” said Ignacio.

NLEX Corporation President and General Manager J. Luigi L. Bautista cited DPWH for incessantly working to provide the necessary right-of-way for big-ticket projects such as the NLEX Harbor Link project.

The NLEX Harbor Link, which traverses Brgy. Karuhatan, Valenzuela City; Tinajeros in Malabon City; Caloocan Interchange in Grace Park C3/5th Avenue; and Navotas Interchange in North Bay Boulevard South, Navotas City, has cut travel time from Quezon City to the Port of Manila from two hours to 20 minutes.

“Though the Harbor Link experienced some ROW concerns in the past, Secretary Villar’s team enabled us to catch up so we can finish the project and provide an efficient alternate route for the public,” said Bautista, highlighting that the recently opened 2.6-kilometer section was substantially completed in two years.

He also mentioned that the DPWH is also pushing for the 16-month completion of the 5-kilometer elevated extension of the Harbor Link to Anda Circle.

As the government’s PPP partner, MPTC and NLEX Corporation commit to continue providing fast, safe, and efficient transport infrastructure in the Philippines. NLEX is currently constructing the Connector Project which is the first public-private partnership project awarded during the term of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

NLEX Corporation Vice President for Tollway Development and Engineering Nemesio Castillo said that, “Despite the work slowdown due to the pandemic, the NLEX Connector is on-track and will be completed by 2021, as originally planned. This is being made possible by the DPWH as it strategically delivers the ROW in sections, allowing unhampered construction of the project.”