Boracay undergoing ecological ‘makeover’ with comprehensive infrastructure program

The Philippines’ premier tourism destination Boracay Island is experiencing a much-needed ‘makeover’ with the on-going comprehensive infrastructure program which will to provide100% water supply and sewerage coverage to the entire community.

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Increased water efficiency will make a significant difference to the island, ensuring the availability of safe, potable water, and addressing the concern of water pollution, a concern in Boracay for sometime.

The project is spearheaded by the Boracay Island Water Company, Inc. (BIWC), a joint venture company between Manila Water Company, Inc. and the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA).

Established through a MOA signed in April 2009 with DOT Secretary Ace Durano and Manila Water Chairman Fernando Zobel de Ayala as key witnesses, the JV company will develop and operate the existing Boracay Water Supply and Sewerage System (BWSS) in Malay, Aklan.

Durano said the public- private sector partnership can be likened to a ‘grand slam win,’ noting four key factors such as “support infrastructure as an integral component of sustainable tourism development; the elimination of the water and sewerage constraint, benefiting both existing and new investments in the island; protection and conservation of the natural beauty of Boracay; and the creation of new jobs for locals.”

He also disclosed, “In 2009, there were 4,000 additional rooms in Boracay alone. More Boracay flights are also available, and while this signals a vibrant market, we want to ensure that the island can cope with the increasing demand from tourists, more so now that the global economy is on a gradual upswing.”

At present, there are 3,500 water connections, 700 of which are owned by commercial establishments in Boracay.

Under the joint venture, the authorized capital stock of the JV Company shall be PhP300 million whereby Manila Water’s equity contribution shall be 80% while PTA’s equity contribution shall be 20%. Durano also mentioned that the JV Company shall design, build, operate and upgrade the water and sewerage facilities of Boracay.

The signed agreement creating the JV company is in accordance with the terms and requirements of the 2008 NEDA Joint Venture Guidelines for Government Corporations and the Private Sector.

“Preserving the island’s ecological wealth is our foremost priority. Promoting the sought-after destination to travelers also entails guaranteeing that the island can provide safe water to the local community and to tourists,” noted Undersecretary for Tourism Planning and Promotions Eduardo Jarque, Jr.

Manila Water has an existing concession in the East Zone of Metro Manila with a customer base of around 5.6 million people. Since the start of operations in 1997, the company has already increased 24-hour water coverage to 99 percent from 26 percent and reduced water losses from 63 percent to less than 20 percent at present.

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