May 1, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

ODA deal with Japan to fund subway expected

THE GOVERNMENT is looking to sign an agreement with Japan by November for the planned P227 billion Mega Manila Subway project seen completed by 2024, two years after the current government’s term ends.


Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade said yesterday that the subway project, the first of its kind in the country, will be funded both through official development assistance (ODA) and from the government’s budget.

“One of the very ambitious infrastructure project of the Duterte administration is what we call the Mega Manila Subway project. This is the first subway project in Manila and it will be using Japanese funding and expertise,” Mr. Tugade told a forum of economic managers on Tuesday.

The 25-kilometer underground mass transportation system connecting major business districts and government centers is expected to serve around 370,000 passengers per day in its opening year.

The first phase of the subway project will cover Quezon City, Mandaluyong, Pasig and Taguig. It will have at least 13 stops -- Mindanao Avenue, Tandang Sora, North Avenue, Quezon Avenue, East Avenue, Anonas, Katipunan, Ortigas North, Ortigas South, Kalayaan Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, and Cayetano Boulevard in Taguig -- and will be capable of end-to-end travel time of 31 minutes.

“This project is slated to start in the fourth quarter of 2020, that’s what the project proponents said; I’m trying to push to start it by 2019, with completion date in the second quarter of 2024,” Mr. Tugade said.

“Our target for signing of this contract is November this year; hopefully that agreement will be signed between Prime Minister [Shinzo] Abe and President [Rodrigo R.] Duterte,” the Transportation chief added.

The feasibility study for the project is being conducted with the help of a grant from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Project development is expected to be completed by August.

“It doesn’t mean that both governments have agreed on all details of the project. It just means that we’ve set a target when we should finalize the project,” Mr. Tugade said in Filipino.

The government is undertaking major infrastructure projects which it hopes will help sustain the country’s robust economic growth.

Resolving road congestion in Metro Manila, which are estimated to produce economic losses of at least P2.4 billion a year, are also part of the administration’s priorities.

The government is planning to spend up to P3.608 trillion until 2020 as it accelerate investment in infrastructure.

Under its three-year rolling infrastructure program, presented yesterday, the administration is looking to spend P1.133 trillion in 2018; P1.182 trillion in 2019; and P1.291 trillion by 2020.

The bulk of the funds, or 64.57%, will be for projects in the transportation sector; social infrastructure; water resources); administrative buildings; and infotech, among others.

This year, Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar said P450 billion will be spent on infrastructure projects.

Meanwhile another big-ticket project in the pipeline is the 2,000-kilometer Mindanao Railway.

The first phase of the project which will cover 104 kilometers extending between Tagum, Davao del Norte to Digos, Davao del Sur via Davao City will be capable of end-to-end travel time of one hour. It is expected to be completed by 2021.

Other projects in the pipeline are the north and south branches of the Philippine National Railway; the 650-kilometer Manila-Bicol line; and a 12.3-kilometer rapid bus transit system from Quezon Memorial Circle to Manila City Hall.

The government is looking to transform the Philippines into a high middle-income economy by the end of the President’s term in 2020. -- Imee Charlee C. Delavin