Intra-Panay expressway a ‘new centerpiece’ of progress

Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. traces the Iloilo-Capiz-Aklan Expressway proposed by the Department of Public Works and Highways. (Joseph B.A. Marzan photo)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. said the Iloilo-Capiz-Aklan Expressway of the Department of Public Works and Highways would spur more rapid growth in trade and the general economy.

In his regular press conference, Defensor that “the demand was always there” and explained that it would benefit trade the most within Panay Island, as it would cut travel time between Iloilo province all the way to northern Aklan.

“It will travel to Aklan for 5 hours for cargo, running for 40 kilometers per hour on a main arterial road. That is why there is a demand for an expressway,” the governor said.

Defensor called it a “game-changer” and the “new centerpiece” for development in Iloilo.

“This is the new centerpiece of our aggressive direction in the development of the province. It will go all the way to Malay, in Boracay [Island],” the governor remarked.

He said that it may also complement the Panay Railways, which is in the pipeline for a much-awaited revival, in mobilizing goods and people.

“One thing is for sure with the [ICAEX]. What is the rule in an expressway? It needs to be as straight as possible. Because if it is not straight, you cannot speed up. That is also for the trains. If you have an expressway, chances are their speeds will not be far from that of the trains,” the governor remarked.

Defensor met with representatives from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in the previous week, where he was briefed on the ICAEX.

The governor said that there would be no turning of the sod any time soon, as the DPWH is still to start its feasibility study on the matter in the next few months.

The expressway, which is seen to stretch from Leganes, Iloilo to Malay, Aklan, is part of the President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. administration’s priority projects under its aggressive Private-Public Partnership (PPP) push.

While there is excitement from local leaders about the project, there is still no final price tag, pending the DPWH’s feasibility study.

“What’s important [to the provincial government] is that it is a priority [project] of the [Marcos Jr.] administration, something that looked like a longshot several months ago, but not anymore,” he said.

It is expected to connect with another mega project, the Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge, as well as with the future Circumferential Roads 2, 3, and 4.