DOTC prioritizing 3 railway projects
The Department of Transportation and Communications is prioritizing railway projects for the next board session of the National Economic and Development Authority.
Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya said railway projects accounted for three out of the seven projects that the DOTC would submit for approval to the Neda board, which is chaired by President Aquino.
These are the Metro Rail Transit Line 7, the LRT Line 1 extension and common station, and the changes to the bid terms of LRT Line 1 extension to Cavite province, Abaya said.
The last item is a P60-billion public private partnership deal. Its auction held in August was declared a failure after prospective bidders backed out of the bidding while the only remaining bidder submitted a noncompliant offer.
Other items up for discussion are the modifications of the P17.5- billion Mactan Cebu International Airport PPP terms, revisions to the scope and allocation of funds for the for Puerto Princesa Airport Development Project, the Development of Integrated Transport System Terminals, Abaya said.
The remaining item was the DOTC-Philippine Coast Guard Port and Coast Guard Capability Development Project.
Abaya said his department was trying to get approvals for the said projects within the month.
The DOTC was earlier criticized for the slow pace of getting its projects off the ground. The department is the biggest implementing agency in the administration’s PPP program but it has so far been unable to award any project.
Abaya said the size and complexity of the projects meant that they could not be rushed.
In the case of the LRT extension to Cavite, he said the department would need Neda’s approval for the holding of another auction and the changes in some of the terms.
Amendments to the bidding terms may include a provision that will allow the government to absorb the real property tax burden, which bidders balked at, and the bidders to make so-called negative offers, which is a type of subsidy, due to the risks involved in the 11.7-kilometer elevated railway extension.
Once the Neda board approval is secured, Abaya said it was possible to hold a re-bidding of the LRT-1 extension this year instead of early 2014.
Abaya, in the meantime, noted that the MRT-7 was up for “re-discussion.” The MRT-7, backed by conglomerate San Miguel Corp., would extend the railway from Quezon City to Bulacan.
The common station for LRT and MRT Line 3 in Quezon City is another long-delayed project.
Various proposals have been put forward but Abaya said the department had yet to decide on the final site of the common station. Being considered as possible sites are SM North Edsa and the Ayala Group’s Trinoma Mall.
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