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Monday, April 28, 2008

Making inroads

MTD Capital has received offers to work on other Philippine highways as the company upgrades the South Luzon Expressway in a joint venture project

30-YEAR CONCESSION: Part of the South Luzon Expressway in Manila

CONSTRUCTION-RELATED MTD Capital Bhd, now close to midway into its 11.3 billion peso (RM875 million) upgrading works on the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) in Manila, has been invited to look at other highway projects in the Philippines.

Group managing director Datuk Azmil Khalili Khalid said MTD prefers to complete the SLEX project first before considering other jobs.

"We will only look at it once we complete this job. But we definitely want to stay in the country for the long term," he said.

Based on the 30-year concession for the SLEX project, MTD should break even within seven years, Azmil told Malaysian journalists during a tour of the project in Manila recently.

"As of today, we have completed some 40 per cent, but we want to complete the project fast. The sooner it is completed, the faster we can collect toll, which means revenue for the company.

"We also want to avoid the risk of higher costs that comes with delays. We don't know where the prices of materials are going to end in the next few years," he added.

MTD Manila Expressway has formed a joint venture with the Philippines National Construction Corp to undertake the upgrading and rehabilitation works on the 30-year-old SLEX, a 29km toll road that will eventually link Manila and Port of Batangas.

The joint-venture company, South Luzon Tollway Corp, was awarded a 30-year concession to upgrade and rehabilitate as well as operate SLEX by the Philippines government on February 3, 2006. It is one of several flagship projects that has received strong support from Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The SLEX project consists of three main sections designated as project toll roads (TRs), namely TR1, TR2 and TR3.

Azmil said the project is funded through MTD's equity (3.6 billion pesos or RM279 million), the World Bank through its private sector arm (2.5 billion pesos or RM194 million) and the balance by a consortium of banks led by Philippines' Banco de Oro-EPCI Inc.

He said the company hopes to complete TR1 and TR2 by March next year, and TR3 in the subsequent 12 months.

TR1 requires the retrofitting of viaduct foundations and columns, replacing of all concrete slabs and girders, and widening of the existing bridgedeck from six lanes to eight lanes.

TR2, meanwhile, is from the Filinvest interchange to Calamba, Laguna. Work involves rehabilitation and widening of 15.6km between Filinvest and Sta. Rosa from the current four lanes to eight lanes, and widening of the 11.7km stretch between Sta. Rosa and Calamba from four lanes to six lanes.

TR3 is a new four-lane highway that will extend from Barangay Turbina, Calamba to Sto. Tomas in Batangas where it will link with the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road.

Besides Malaysia, MTD is active overseas in Thailand, The Philippines, Australia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, China, Indonesia and India.

By New Straits Times (by Kamarul Yunus)

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