The government of the Philippines has embarked on an ambitious “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure programme to spur economic growth throughout the country. According to the government, a total of PhP8.4 trillion (US$170 billion) will be spent for infrastructure during the six-year term of the Duterte administration. This will increase the infrastructure spending in the GDP from 3.4% in 2016 to 7.4% by 2022.
The Philippines is one of the fastest growing economies in Asia averaging more than 6% growth over the past decade. However, infrastructure spending has lagged behind its neighbours. The crumbling infrastructure has resulted in transport and economic woes and has been identified as one of the most significant constraints sustaining to the country’s economic growth.
Underdeveloped infrastructure is attributed to the following factors:
- inadequate infrastructure investment
- lack of inter-agency coordination
- inadequate or incomplete infrastructure plans and implementation programmes
- limited access to international expertise and constrained technical and management know-how in project preparation and implementation; and
- inadequate sustainability of infrastructure.
“Access to international sources of advice and best practice will enable the government to incorporate innovation and expertise in project formulation and implementation and this is where global firms like Arup come in,” said Raul Manlapig, Arup’s Manila office leader.
Making it work
To realise their ambitious goals, the government requested the Asia Development Bank (ADB) to help the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) – the two key agencies responsible for national public infrastructure projects – to conduct pre-investment activities which will in turn help the government expedite the review and approval process and shorten start-up periods for priority infrastructure projects.
The US$100 million loan facility was the ADB’s first technical assistance loan to the Philippines. The total cost of the facility is US$164.06 million, with the government of the Philippines contributing US$64.06 million.
In October 2017, after a rigorous pre-qualification process, the ADB invited tenders for the following outputs:
- Output 1 – Road and bridge projects
- Output 2 – Water projects
- Output 3 – Rail, public transport, port and airport projects
Arup is currently working on Output 1 and Output 3. Under Output 1, the firm is helping the DPWH prepare feasibility studies and detailed engineering designs for the new inter-island bridges, tunnels and highways. Under Output 3, it is supporting the DOTr in a strategic transport planning review that covers rail, aviation, sustainable transport and maritime sectors and will recommend the priority of projects as well as assisting in the preparation of high priority projects.
The Philippine government’s “Build, Build, Build” programme coincides with the Chinese government’s Belt and Road Initiative with aligned infrastructure goals. The ambitious programme requires international expertise in infrastructure planning, design, delivery and consulting services that realistically address local challenges and make sure the projects are truly resilient – delivering for the economy, for the environment, and for the people.