The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI) is set to start the construction of the Taguig Integrated Terminal Exchange (ITX) in the second half of this year as it expects operation to begin by the first half of 2020.

The project, formerly known as the Integrated Transport System-South Terminal, was inaugurated yesterday.

Arthur Tugade, transportation secretary, said ALI has agreed to waive the P277 million annual grantor payment, which is supposed to be paid by the government to the company on a yearly basis for 35 years.

Tugade said this would save the government P9 billion in the construction of the Taguig ITX project.

“Let’s find ways how we can stop the practice and paradigm of government paying the private sector royalty grounds as they operate terminals. Under the contract, the government should pay P277 million for the next 35 years,” he said.

Tugade added DOTr has had discussions with ALI since last year that they were able to come up with a win-win solution that will ultimately benefit Filipinos.

“Two things will be done – the P277 million per year for the next 35 years will no longer be paid, saving the government, this country, no less than P9 billion cashout annually… And two, from the start of its commercial operation, until the end of the concession agreement, ALI will share 2 percent of their income from the commercial spaces in favor of the government,” Tugade said at the groundbreaking for Taguig ITX.

The project is a six-storey building on a 5.57-hectare property inside the Food Terminal, Inc. (FTI) compound which would house the passenger concourse, a centralized ticketing area, and several business and retail establishments.

The project will also have a provision for 1,200 public utility buses and vehicles’ bays and parking. Upon its completion, Taguig ITX is expected to house around 4,000 buses and accommodate 160,000 passengers daily. It will also feature a pedestrian walkway connection to the Philippine National Railways FTI station and the proposed subway system.

Taguig ITX will cater to all provincial buses plying the south of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao destinations.

The project, awarded during the Aquino administration, faced delays as it was originally targeted to commence construction in the second half of 2016. It was to be completed in 18 months or in January 2018, while operation of the terminal should be in full swing by February 2018.