DARAGA, Albay - The Duterte administration has committed to finish within this year the construction of the Bicol International Airport here, considered among the big projects vital to the country’s post-pandemic recovery.
Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda said the commitment to finish the P 4.8-billion BIA was made during the recent visit to the site by officials of the Department of Transportation, after the project failed to meet yet another deadline, which was July 2020.
Salceda said the BIA, situated within his congressional district, is among the large projects needed to continuously roll out under the government’s ‘Build, Build, Build” Program to make the economy more stable and in part stave off the harsh impacts of the 2019 coronavirus disease pandemic crisis.
The aviation industry has been among those hardest hit by the crippling effects of the pandemic, and BIA’s completion is set to give this sector a boost, he added.
The DoTr said the BIA, a project initiated by the Bicolano lawmaker, now stands at 66.61-percent accomplished.
Following years of sluggish implementation, the BIA construction resumed with vigor during the Duterte’s administration, particularly its Landside Facilities (Project 2A). Runway Extension and the construction of the Passenger Terminal Building (Project 2B) commenced in 2017.
As of 24 June 2020, Package 2A of the airport was said to be about 81-percent complete. This covers the landside facilities, such as the Administration Building, Air Traffic Control Building, Crash Fire Rescue Building, and the Maintenance Building. Its Package 2B, which covers the construction of the Passenger Terminal Building and the runway, is 34-percent complete.
Delayed by various adverse factors in the past, the P4.8-billion BIA went beyond another deadline this month, but the DoTr assured it has already scheduled a 24/7 work on the airport, it being among the government priority facilities for this year.
Salceda, who had patiently worked on the project for years, said the BIA is considered a vital key to development and is envisioned to unlock the economic potentials of Southern Luzon.
The BIA is designed to accommodate some two million passengers annually with its higher capacity facilities, and state-of-the-art operational safety. It is expected to transform Albay, Bicol’s regional center, into an economic powerhouse, he said.
Hailed as the “Most Scenic Gateway” the country would ever have, the Albay solon said “the role of the BIA will be huge in the country’s economic recovery, especially when international travel resumes”.
The BIA is situated right at the heart of the Bicol Region, which is home to the world’s iconic Mayon volcano and the Cagsawa Ruins.
Strongly pushed by Salceda during his earlier stint in Congress and later as Albay governor and Bicol Regional Development Council chairman for nine years, the BIA project started in 2005, but construction in earnest began only in 2009.
“There is now reasonable optimism the executive decisiveness of the Duterte administration could deliver the BIA, a vital infrastructure to help realize the potentials of Bicol and Southern Luzon, and which is also crucial to country’s development program,” he stressed.
During several meetings with Salceda — who initiated the project and worked to overcome many obstacles to its completion, and whose district hosts the BIA — Transportation Sec. Arthur Tugade had committed to make the airport operational, before President’s term ends.