Ayala looks to build new infra for Manila's 'pain points'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Ayala Corp. is putting together several infrastructure projects for next year, aimed at soothing Metro Manila's traffic "pain points."

"Mega-city congestion is going to be an issue for years to come. So, we did an honest-to goodness scan of what we call pain points in Metro Manila - areas that lack for infrastructure or where demand far outweighs supply," AC Infra President and CEO Rene Almendras said in a media roundtable on Wednesday.

The hotspots include EDSA, South Luzon Expressway, Commonwealth Avenue and Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), he said.

Almendras declined to give details on AC Infra's plans, but he hinted the projects would tackle vehicular traffic across the Pasig River, goods movement within and around Metro Manila, as well as the congestion of NAIA.

The company is also looking at sectors it can develop without so much need for government regulation or participation.

"We are still conducting our feasibility studies. We want to know what projects will create the biggest impact. But you will hear from us next year," he said.

The projects will be different from those the government has identified in its infrastructure pipeline, Almendras said. AC Infra plans to put them forward as unsolicited proposals to the government.

"There are many things we think are interesting that aren't in the government's project list yet. We think we can offer something different," he said.

That said, AC Infra is still raring to bid for some of the government's public-private partnership deals.

The proposed NAIA rehabilitation, for one, is in the sights of AC Infra. The ₱74.5-billion project aims to improve the efficiency of NAIA's four terminals, covering both its landside and airside operations.

Almendras revealed AC Infra has already organised a consortium with three other airport operators, with "an appropriate representation of expertise" for the land and air components.

The Ayala-run unit is also keen on bidding for the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 2 project. It involves the operation and maintenance of the line, as well as the planned extension to the east.

AC Infra already operates and maintains the LRT Line 1 with the Pangilinan-run Metro Pacific Light Rail Corp. Since their takeover in 2015, the consortium has increased the number of trains from 77 to 96, cut occupancy and waiting times.

Almendras welcomed the administration's move to splurge on infrastructure, saying the lack of public works is limiting the growth of the economy and worsening the quality of life of Filipinos.

He said, "The clamor for infrastructure is already there. Now, we just need to build."