China, Japan, South Korea, local firms eye Mindanao rail project
DAVAO CITY – The governments of China, Japan and South Korea as well as at least four homegrown conglomerates are interested to invest in the proposed 2,000-kilometer Mindanao railway system that will connect the entire island, officials of state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said Thursday.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia told reporters that China was “very eager” to finance the project, but the Japanese government was also pitching financing through official development assistance (ODA).
Pernia, who is also the Director-General of Neda, said at least four local groups—“the usual suspects”—were likewise interested in the project, including Ayala Corp., Megawide Construction Corp., Metro Pacific Investments Corp., and San Miguel Corp.
Pernia said the Duterte administration plans to start work on the project next year, with completion expected beyond 2022.
Neda Deputy Director-General Rolando G. Tungpalan said a feasibility study is ongoing to determine “the best way to structure the project.” Tungpalan said the Chinese, Japanese and South Korean governments were all “ready” to fund the project.
Pernia said the Mindanao railway project may be funded through various ways, including ODA and public-private partnership (PPP), but they have yet to determine which will be most feasible. The project cost is also yet to be finalized.
The Neda chief said they were looking at implementing the two projects in two stages, with the initial stage to connect the cities of Davao and Cagayan de Oro.
Earlier reports said the rail project will also pass through the cities of Butuan, Iligan, General Santos, Surigao and Zamboanga.
Pernia said this is part of the Duterte administration’s resolve to spread infrastructure development to underserved areas outside Metro Manila, especially Mindanao.
The government also plans to improve tourism infrastructure as well as sea ports in the southern island, he added. CDG
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