DARAGA, Albay --- Round-the-clock construction work on the Bicol International Airport (BIA) is set to start this July to meet its target completion date within the year for priority facilities set by Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade.
Although the construction of the airport development project at present is in full swing, construction work will be done 24/7 starting this July.
The feasibility study of the Bicol International Airport originally started in 1996 and the notice to proceed was issued in July 2009.
Meanwhile, construction works for the runway, taxiway, apron and fences were mostly left uncompleted in 2012, and budget was reverted to the national treasury.
It was only when the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte came in 2016 that the construction of Landside Facilities (Project 2A) began. Runway extension and the construction of the Passenger Terminal Building (Project 2B) began in 2017.
As of June 24, 2020, Package 2A of the airport development project, which is handled by Sunwest Construction, is already 81 percent complete.
The Package 2A covers the landside facilities, such as the administration building, air traffic control building, crash fire rescue building, and the maintenance building.
Meanwhile, Package 2B, which covers the construction of the passenger terminal building (PTB) and the runway, is 34-percent complete.
Its contractor, E.M. Cuerpo committed to provide additional manpower to finish the priority facilities within the year.
Overall, the completion rate of the Bicol International Airport now stands at 66.61 percent.
Hailed as the country’s “Most Scenic Gateway”, the BIA features the iconic Mayon Volcano as its magnificent backdrop.
Once completed, the BIA is expected to strategically boost air traffic and tourist arrivals in Albay province and spur regional growth in the Bicol region, making it an economic powerhouse.
Tugade said the continuous development of transport infrastructure is vital during this time, as the country starts recovering from the impact of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
“It can’t be denied that the aviation sector has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. That’s why it is important that we finish the airport at the soonest possible time as this will absolutely give the economy a boost. Gusto ko matapos ‘yan (I want to finish this) within the year dahil gusto na natin itong agad na mapakinabangan ng ating mga kababayan (because we want our people to benefit from this). As we ready for take-off, kung baga, dapat (it should be) all systems go,” Tugade said.
Meanwhile, DOTr Assistant Secretary for Procurement and Project Implementation, Giovanni Lopez, said that the expedited construction work for the airport is a way to offset the period of work suspension and unnecessary delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“To recall, we have initially targeted to finish the airport by July this year. Unfortunately, we encountered delays that have hampered the early completion of the Bicol International Airport. But, as committed by our contractors, we will work triple time and meet the deadline set by Secretary Tugade by the end of the year. Rest assured that although we are expediting the airport’s completion, we will still follow the allowable budget costs without sacrificing the quality,” Lopez said.
Lopez and Assistant Secretary for Aviation Jim Melo conducted an unannounced inspection on the construction site on June 28.
Construction company E.M. Cuerpo said it is committed to the directive of Tugade to finish the airport project within the year.
“ Our commitment to Secretary Tugade is to finish the runway extension and PTB shell by September while we will finish other works to finish the priority facilities of the airport until December,” E.M. Cuerpo president and chief executive officer Rene Cuerpo said.
Cuerpo said they fielded additional 100 workers last week for 24/7 construction of the airport.
“It’s something if Secretary Tugade was the one who ordered, we need to fulfill,” he said. (DOTr-PR)