By Emme Rose Santiagudo
An elevated expressway that will connect Iloilo, Capiz, and Aklan and potentially reduce the travel cost for businesses and visitors who want to explore Panay Island is now being rolled out as part of the major infrastructure projects pushed by the Regional Development Council (RDC).
Panay Expressway, which will be similar to the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), awaits endorsement of the Infrastructure Committee of the RDC, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)-6 Regional Director Ro-Ann Bacal said.
“I was able to talk to Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Region 6 Regional Director Lea Delfinado and she asked for the infrastructure committee of the RDC to endorse this in order for them to start to conduct the study for the feasibility study of the expressway,” Bacal said.
Bacal said the Panay Expressway is different from the proposed Panay Railway which remains in the doldrums to this day.
“We are still awaiting the move of the Department of Transportation (DOTr). We had several project proposals from DOTr but they said it is going to be a public-private partnership (PPP) undertaking but nothing concrete has taken place,” she said.
According to Bacal, businessmen and investors preferred an elevated expressway instead of the railway system as the door-to-door transfer of their products will be guaranteed.
“When we talk to the businessmen, sabi nila they are not so much keen on the railway kasi gusto nila door-to-door. Kasi yung sa railway you have to get the goods from the production area and put it to a truck and unload it to the railway, so there are many transfers,” she said.
With the Panay Expressway, Bacal said the delivery of products will be door-to-door and the cost of travel will be reduced.
She added that the expressway can be designed in a way that it can accommodate a metro rail transit system (MRT).
“We feel that there is going to be win-win situations whereby the design of expressway, that it can provide for the MRT in the middle or on the side of the expressway. We will see but we are very keen on the expressway because you know ang tagal ng gestation period ng railway,” she said.