Gov’t takes LRT show on the roadBy Paolo G. Montecillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Government is set to hold roadshows in key cities like London, Madrid, Seoul and Tokyo to drum up interest for the Light Rail Transit (LRT) line 1 Cavite Extension, which, at P60 billion, is the most expensive project in the Aquino administration’s pipeline.
According to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), interest in the contract remains strong, even though work on the project is not expected to start until the middle of next year, or three years into the President’s six-year term.
“This project has been on deck as early as eight years ago, when I was still (trade) secretary. However, because of the corroded process involving government transactions, this project was never pursued,” said Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II.
The bidding, which started with a prequalification process this week, is expected to be completed by early next year. The issuance of a “notice of award,” a requirement before work can start, is not expected until the second quarter.
The prequalification conference is meant to weed out parties that are not committed to the project, or does not have the financial or technical capacity for such an undertaking.
“The bidding will undergo pre-qualification to ensure that the companies, or even the consortia to be formed, have the required financial, technical and management capability to carry out the project,” Roxas said.
Several conglomerates attended the prequalification conference, including Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC), San Miguel Infra, Makati Development Corp., First Pacific, Marubeni, DMCI, FF Cruz, Ecorail, Leighton Contractors, Japanese firms Sumitomo, Mitsubishi, Itochu, and French transportation contractors RATP Dev and Systa.
MPIC and conglomerate Ayala Corp. have disclosed plans to set up a joint-venture firm to pursue the LRT extension project.
The bidders will vie for the P30-billion construction, operations, and maintenance contract for the extension project, while the government will shoulder the remaining P30 billion, secured from an overseas development assistance (ODA) loan, for the acquisition of new train cars.
“We want the countries in Europe and Asia to know about this project. How many projects worldwide amount to about $800 million?” Roxas said. “The cost of the project is expected to go down as more investors bid for it.”
The existing Line 1, with endpoints at Roosevelt in the north and Baclaran in the south, services about 500,000 commuters daily.
The Cavite extension project will increase the span of Line 1 from 20.7 kilometers to 32.4 kilometers and will have a new southern endpoint in Niog, Bacoor, Cavite.
The extension includes eight stations, with provisions for two more stations; a 10.5-kilometer viaduct; support beams; and three intermodal facilities to serve as hubs where buses, jeepneys and taxis can pick up and drop off passengers.
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