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Bulk water project attracts more investors

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• GILBERT P. BAYORAN

Two more prominent companies joined the bidding process for the P2 billion bulk water project of the provincial government of Negros Occidental, bringing to five the current number of investors that have bought bidding documents, Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson disclosed yesterday.

Lacson, in his New Year’s message to Capitol employees, following a mass at the Provincial Capitol Social Hall in Bacolod City, identified the two other bidders as First Balfour Incorporated and Prime Water, aside from Manila Water Philippine Ventures Inc., Aboitiz Infra Capital, and Balibago Water Works System Inc.

Interested investors have been given until January 31 to buy the bidding documents by the provincial government.

Lacson said the interest expressed by these prominent companies is evidence of their “confidence in the project, our initiatives for water security, and the effectiveness of our governance.” This project will last for decades and will benefit the next generations of Negrenses, he stressed.

The Negros Occidental Bulk Water Supply Project (NBWSP) involves the financing, engineering design, construction, operation, and maintenance of a bulk water supply system with a minimum capacity of 34.5 million liters/day (MLD) to be sourced from the Imbang River and/or Malogo River, according to the official website of the provincial government.

It is expected to supply treated bulk water to six water service providers in the cities of Bacolod, Silay, Talisay, Victorias, as well as municipalities of E.B. Magalona and Manapla.

Under a Private Public Partnership (PPP) scheme, the provincial government of Negros Occidental seeks to enter into a joint venture agreement with a private investor to fund the P1.2 billion project.

Lacson also bared other programs of his administration for 2024, which include the purchase of  property from the 1st Falls to the 7th Falls from the Mambukal Real Estate Development Corporation, and the expansion of Tambara project to 120 hectares in Talisay City, among others.

With the purchase of property from Mambukal Real Estate Development Corporation, he said the provincial government will now exercise control and ownership over the land surrounding the waterfalls and river systems.

Our focus will be on reforestation, ensuring the protection of our falls, and preserving our natural resources, Lacson said, as he also revealed plans to enhance hotel facilities, introduction of new tourism features such as trail running, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and potentially tramlines and ziplines to attract both local and foreign tourists.

Stressing that Mambukal has always been a hallmark of the provincial government tourism infrastructure projects, the governor said “as such, we aim to develop a world-class resort while at the same time, promoting ecological sustainability and protection.”

With regard to the expansion of the Tambara project in Talisay City, as part of the ongoing provincial government commitment to ecological integrity, Lacson said their focus remains on planting giant bamboos to enhance forest cover and to facilitate the construction of a bamboo processing facility.

He reported that a private firm has expressed interest in establishing facilities, where an ample supply of bamboo is available for the production of engineered bamboo, intended for export and as part of community livelihood.

Moreover, our nurseries have doubled their seedling production, with the cultivation of 6,000 seedlings a month, Lacson said, as he further stressed that bamboo reforestation is their climate change mitigation strategy.

We will proceed with our plan for bamboo treatments employing Bali technology, which is suitable for housing and boasts long-lasting durability, the governor added.

Having now in their possession of 7,000 square meters of property in Bacolod City, which used to be occupied by the Land Transportation Office, Boy Scouts of the Philippines and Veterans Bank, and reversion a portion of the Negros Forest property to the provincial government, Lacson said they are planning to establish Cyber Center II or pursue a PPP project in those vacated areas.

To address congestion in the Capitol area and make good use of the motor pool area, we are constructing a two-storey parking lot for the employees, he also announced.

These are just a few of the projects and programs we have for this year, complementing our already established initiatives under our Abanse Negrense development agenda, Lacson further said.

He also thanked the Sangguniang Panlalawigan headed by Vice Gov. Jeffrey Ferrer, department, division, and office heads for their consistency and commitment to service.

This new year presents a fresh challenge for us to work together with a renewed sense of purpose and motivation. As I mentioned last year, public service is both a privilege and a blessing that we should all value and cherish, Lacson further said.*

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