Tycoon offers to build Cebu dam in 3 years, sell water at low price

CEBU City’s dream of having a dam in the upland Barangay Lusaran, where the headwater is located, could soon be realized after a tycoon said he could complete building such a dam in less than three years, auguring well for the city’s water supply.This was what lawyer Jerone Castillo, special assistant to Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, said in a press conference at Waterfront Hotel & Casino Mactan Friday, Sept. 16, 2022, shortly after they arrived from their second “investment begging” trip in the National Capital Region.Rama reportedly secured a commitment from ports and casino tycoon Enrique Razon Jr., now also chairman of Manila Water Co., to fund and build the dam, during his latest round of “investment begging” to fund the projects and programs of the city government.The mayor was accompanied by City Planning and Development Office head Joseph Michael “Yumi” Espina, South Road Properties Management Office head Roberto Varquez, Public Information Office head Cerwin Eviota and some personnel from the Mayor’s Office.They said Razon would offer the water to the local water utility, the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD), for only P20 per cubic meter.At this low price, they said, this would encourage more businesses to come to Cebu.Razon reportedly said that contrary to notions that it will take 10 to 15 years to build a dam, it could actually be built in much less time and be able to start supplying water to MCWD in two to three years’ time.In 2019, MCWD revealed that it was buying water for P32 per cubic meter from a private supplier.Rama, however, could not yet give an estimate on the amount of money that Razon would spend, but stressed that it would be in the billions.“I am very clear about the city. The only thing I can assure is good governance. Way mangilkil. Mao na akong gi assure (I assured that no one would extort them),” said Rama when asked what investors have asked in return for their investments in the city.During their four-day investment begging, they also secured P100 million from Megawide Construction Corp. for the completion of the construction of the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC).Megawide, through its subsidiary Cebu2World Development Inc., is undertaking the Carbon Public Market’s redevelopment under a joint venture agreement with the Cebu City Government. Megawide also operates the Mactan-Cebu International Airport through the special purpose vehicle GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp.Another company, Terra Movers Development Corp., the local partner of US-based Westfield Resources, may also build an LNG (liquefied natural gas) plant, which could provide about 300 megawatts of power not just to the city but also to Cebu Province.The mayor’s latest trip for investment begging began on Tuesday, Sept. 13.Last August, Rama’s first round of investment begging yielded over P1.3 billion worth of funding, of which P800 million would be used to help complete the construction of the CCMC, while P575 million would go toward the construction of five medium-rise buildings for socialized housing.With the funding commitment, Rama is confident that the CCMC will be finished by January 2023.Rama previously said the CCMC will not be privatized since the investors did not ask for anything in return. But the City Government offered naming rights to the hospital floors that they will help finish.In a recent interview, Rama also revealed that after visiting potential investors in Manila, he will also be tapping local businessmen here in Cebu.Rama also earlier announced that another leg of investment hopping will also happen before the month of September will end. (WITH CTL)