METRO Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) expects that the opening of the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) will gradually boost the earnings of its toll roads business starting this year, its chairman said.

“It will impact the earnings of the tollways group starting this year, [but] not in a major way because the traffic will slowly, gradually build up,” MPIC Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan told reporters last week.

“It’s a new market for us and, in a way, Cebuanos are not used to paying tolls… So, this will be a new arrangement for them, and we don’t know how they will react to it,” he added.

The 8.9-kilometer expressway was inaugurated on April 27. Vehicles classified under Classes 1 to 3 are now allowed to use the expressway, while motorcycles under 400cc will be allowed to use it only by July this year, Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corp. (CCLEC) said in a statement.

The approved toll rates range from P90 to P270, depending on the vehicle type.

“The motoring public is asked to drive at a maximum speed of 60 kilometers per hour (kph). The CCLEX is designed for maximum speed of up to 80 kph, but the CCLEC is implementing a 60 kph limit during initial operations as part of safety measures because motorists are still not familiar with the expressway,” the company said.

CCLEC, a subsidiary of Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., the tollways arm of MPIC, signed a concession agreement with Cebu City and Municipality of Cordova in 2016.

CCLEC was granted concession rights to design, finance, construct, operate and maintain the CCLEX, including the right to collect toll fees over a 35-year concession period (including the construction period).

“Work on the CCLEX started on July 5, 2018, with ceremonies marking the beginning of civil works. It is MPTC’s first toll road project outside Luzon,” the company said.

MPIC is one of three key Philippine units of First Pacific, the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT, Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Arjay L. Balinbin