THE TRANSPORTATION department has postponed again the signing of the P4-billion build-transfer-operate contract for an integrated transport hub near the Food Terminal, Inc. (FTI) grounds in Taguig City, citing the unavailability of its top official.

“Due to the emergency meeting with the President, the Signing of the ITS (Integrated Transport System) South [Terminal] Concession Agreement is postponed,” the agency said in a statement yesterday.

Asked about the topic of the meeting, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio A. Abaya said in a mobile phone reply: “Just have a regular meeting in Malacañang which I couldn’t excuse myself from.”

“We will reschedule and get it signed as soon as possible.”

The signing of the public-private partnership (PPP) deal will allow the winner, Ayala Land, Inc., to push through with the groundbreaking in August.

The terminal is targeted to be completed by January 2018 and to be operational by February that year.

The property giant bagged the project in the Aug. 11 auction after submitting a lower annual grantor payment of P277.8 million, outbidding the Gotianun-led Filinvest Land, Inc.

Ayala Land was supposed to sign the deal on Jan. 12, but this was postponed to Jan. 20. The firm will build and operate commercial facilities at the 5.57-hectare terminal, which is located near its property inside the FTI complex that it won in a 2012 privatization auction.

The ITS South project involves the construction of a terminal that will connect passengers from the Laguna and Batangas areas to other urban transport systems like the planned North-South Commuter Railway, buses, taxis and other public utility vehicles that serve inner Metro Manila. It includes construction of arrival and departure bays, public information systems, as well as ticketing, baggage and park-ride facilities.

The ITS South Terminal is the Ayala group’s fourth public-private partnership (PPP) deal. Its parent, Ayala Corp., won in 2011 the P2.01-billion contract for the Daang Hari-SLEx (South Luzon Expressway) Link Road, now called the Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway.

It then went on to bag two other PPP contracts through partnerships with infrastructure conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp.: the P64.9-billion Light Rail Transit Line 1 Cavite Extension (together with Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings) and the P1.72-billion Automatic Fare Collection System.

Shares in Ayala Land ended yesterday’s trading at P28.50 apiece, down by P1.45 or 4.84%.

20 January 2016
By D. J. Magturo