MANILA, Philippines – On his first week as transportation chief, Arthur Tugade announced his first project: Letting local airlines maintain the 121 toilet facilities at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Infrastructure in the Philippines needs to keep up with the fast-growing economy, and NAIA is a particular focus of concern. The country’s premier gateway struggles to cope with the about 500 arrivals and departures daily, as it has only two runways.
Tugade will address the infrastructure backlog beginning with the most basic problem – dirty toilets at the airport.
“One of the small, basic problems which irritated the community is the issue of maintenance of the washrooms and utilities inside the airport….We’ll address that in 100 days. Toilets will be malinis and mabango (clean and sweet-smelling),” Tugade said in Filipino during an event in Mandaluyong City on Thursday, July 7.
Local airlines have agreed to undertake the maintenance of public restrooms at NAIA’s 4 terminals – at no cost to the government. (READ: Duterte admin to roll out stalled PPP deals by 2017 – NEDA chief)
“So it has come to me that one way to approach the issue of poor toilet maintenance is to remove that activity from government and give it to the people that are operating in the airport,” Tugade told reporters.
Top officials of Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air, Philippines AirAsia, PAL Express, Cebgo, and Philippine Airport Ground Support Solutions will take over the maintenance of NAIA’s toilets starting next week.
“I asked Mr Lance [Gokongwei, chief of Cebu Pacific], ‘Sir, puwede ho bang humingi ng tulong?’ At sabi niya, (‘Sir, can I ask for help?’ And he said,) ‘You know Art, just ask for help and my company and group of companies will extend our support and cooperation,'” Tugade recalled how the discussion started.
In 2014, the government spent P32.6 million to install major fixtures at 121 NAIA toilets. This project included new water closets, sensor-type urinals, lavatories, tiles, ceilings, and waterproofing works.
Free 1GB Internet
Tugade said his team will also ask help from the country’s two telecommunication giants to set up free one gigabyte Wi-Fi in almost all airports.
“In due time, NAIA will also be communication-friendly. We are now working and hopefully, it will be in effect in the next 100 days: free Wi-Fi, free one gigabyte,” Tugade added.
Globe Telecom Incorporated and PLDT Incorporated are already providing free Wi-Fi services in almost all airports.
“It’s just going to be an upgrade,” Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal said on the sidelines of the DOTC event.
The transportation department’s goal to provide faster Internet in all airports will also be at no cost to the government.
“Walang gagastusin ang gobyerno (The government will not spend even a single centavo). It’s a facility that is going to be given for our riding public,” Monreal said.
For more complex airport infrastructure needs like a new runway, Monreal said his team is still rationalizing and studying possibilities, but did not give specifics.
Meanwhile, Tugade said this was just the start of cooperation between the government and the private sector in addressing infrastructure backlogs.
“I hope this is not the first and the last. I assure you madami pa akong hihilingin (I assure you I’ll ask for more things),” Tugade told the local airline executives.
He then clarified that this agreement does not mean the government owes a debt of gratitude to local airlines.
“Liliwanagin ko lang po, napagusapan po ito ng walang konsiderasyon sa personal, para sa akin or kanino man. Ito po ay benepisyo sa gobyerno, public. Ganito po kami magooperate,” he said.
(I’ll just clarify, this agreement was made without any consideration of my or anyone else’s personal interests. This is for the benefit of the government and the public. This is how we will operate.) – Rappler.com
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