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Go to tell DU30 on slow Bicol airport completion

By Rhaydz B. Barcia

Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” T. Go said he will bring to the attention of President Rodrigo Duterte the slow pace of construction of the Bicol International Airport, which has been delayed for more than 10 years.

Go, who visited Legazpi City last week, said that he will check with DOTr Sec. Arthur Tugade why the construction has been delayed.

“I will check with Sec. Tugade why the construction of Bicol International Airport (BIA) is not yet done. It is a priority project of President Rodrigo Duterte where we visited a few years back,” Go said.

Duterte along with Go visited the site of the BIA in Barangay Alobo, Daraga, Albay shortly after he assumed the presidency in 2016, where he led the BIA groundbreaking ceremony.

The construction of trhe P4.7-billion BIA has been certified by President Duterte as one of his priority projects, but four years into his term, the completion of the airport remains to be seen.

Duterte expected that the construction of the international airport would be finished in two years or 2018 after the groundbreaking ceremony in 2016.

NEW AIRPORT Works on the long-delayed Bicol International Airport (BIA) project continue at a slow pace. Photo shows the runway and other completed facilities. This airport is located in Barangay Alobo, Daraga, Albay. Rhaydz B. Barcia

The BIA is a flagship project of former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. But i construction was snail-paced and was put-on hold during the Aquino administration after Salceda, then Albay governor joined the camp of then presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe.

Meanwhile, Tugade, in a statement, said that the construction of BIA is 72.2 percent complete.

“The Bicol International Airport (BIA), which is touted as the ‘Most Scenic Gateway’ in the country, is moving at a fast pace,” Tugade said.

As of Jan. 13, 2021, Tugade said that Package 2A of the international airport development project is now 88.2 percent complete.

He said the construction work in Package 2A is being handled by the Sunwest Group of Company that covers the airport’s landside facilities, such as the administration building, air traffic control building, crash fire rescue building, and the maintenance building.

While Package 2B is being handled by the E.M. Cuerpo Construction, which consists of the construction of the passenger terminal building (PTB), taxiway, runway extension, and other site development works. It is now 49.5 percent complete.

The BIA is projected to boost air traffic in Bicol region and neighboring Visayan region specifically in Samar areas, and it is expected to serve a total of two million airline passengers annually.

“It can’t be denied that the aviation sector has been one of the hardest hits by the pandemic. That’s why it is important that we finish the airport at the soonest possible time amid the existing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic as this will absolutely give the economy a boost,” the DOTr chief said.

“I want to finish off the BIA within the year because we want it to be ready so the public will benefit from it. As we ready for take-off, it must be all systems go,” TUgade said.

The pre-feasibility study of Bicol International Airport started way back in 1996, and the notice to proceed was given in 2003 during the Arroyo administration. The BIA initially started construction in 2008.

However, development works were not completed until 2012. The construction started in the later part of the Arroyo administration and was continued by the Aquino government. But the full blast construction started in 2016 shortly after Duterte assumed the presidency.

Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara said the airport will pave the way for the Bicol region specifically Albay province to be an economic powerhouse, which will greatly benefit the Bicolanos specifically the tourism sector.

Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal said that he is optimistic that once the international airport becomes operational in Bicol, the region’s economy will recover swiftly despite the pandemic.

“I am still optimistic that despite the pandemic we will rise again once the international airport is operational. So, we will continue infrastructure programs aside from BIA, railway and other major projects,” Rosal said.

Rosal said that while waiting for the BIA completion, private stakeholders are also doing their share to recover from the impact of pandemic and adverse impact of series of natural calamities.

“We are just waiting for the total opening of the economy and so as tourism and conventions. We are also preparing for our agriculture projects to prime our economy and food sustainability,” Rosal said.

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