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Gov't eyes resumption of infra projects

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The government is evaluating the resumption of big-ticket infrastructure projects to resume amid the extended Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus disease 2019.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, spokesman of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), said this would be among the topics the task force will discuss in the coming days as the lockdown enters its fourth week.

However, Nograles stressed that strict social distancing measures and a limited workforce utilization will be strictly enforced should they decide to allow projects to resume.

“Siguro magkakaroon in the following days certain…siguro mga trabaho like public work construction na pwede pero piling piliing pili na ‘yan. Kasi siyempre natatakot tayo doon sa resurgence at magkaroon ng panibagong transmission,” Nograles said Monday morning in an interview on dzMM.

“Tatanungin natin ‘yung mga experts kung anong tingin nila dito,” he added.

The task force earlier approved the request of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to allow the resumption of utility relocation works and resume specified limited works across 13 rail projects nationwide.

But it reminded the DOTr to observe limited mobilization of personnel and skeletal staffing pattern; provide on- or near-site accommodations and/or point-to-point shuttle services; regularly disinfect workplaces, shuttles, and accommodations; monitor personnel’s health, especially for COVID-19 symptoms; observe strict social distancing measures and proper hand hygiene and enforce all other precautionary measures against COVID-19.

President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the entire Luzon, the country’s economic and political  center, under a month-long enhanced community quarantine to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. It has been extended until April 30, 2020.

The strict measure also suspended work for the majority of the region’s people and halted the operations of mass public transportation systems.

Earlier, the Department of Public Works and Highways said the health crisis will only have a “minimal” impact on the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program, noting that deadline for projects will be met even as the entire island of Luzon was put on lockdown as the government grapples with the infectious respiratory illness.

The Philippines has 4,648 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 297 deaths, and 197 recoveries as of April 12.

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