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Gov’t readies P1-T railway projects

5 road maps seen boosting PH infra system

The Duterte administration has unveiled a P1-trillion nationwide pipeline of railway projects, most of which will be located in Luzon and Metro Manila where traffic congestion was at its worst, apart from urban centers in Cebu and Mindanao.

The administration also committed to “redouble” infrastructure improvement such that the government plans to roll out five more road maps aimed at sustaining economic development, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said Wednesday.

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The plan was included in the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) detailed submission to Sen. Grace Poe, who is heading the committee on public services, in line with the government’s request for special powers to combat the traffic crisis in the capital district.

All told, 14 train projects valued at P1.07 trillion were named in the 64-page document.

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Some of these, like the Light Rail Transit Line 1 extension to Cavite and capacity expansion at the Metro Rail Transit Line 3, have been bid out by the previous Aquino administration. However, a good deal more have yet to be implemented or rolled out.

According to an indicative timeline, all but one train project—a proposed 14-kilometer subway line linking business districts in Metro Manila—would be finished by the time the Duterte administration ends in 2022, assuming special powers were granted.

The subway line, the single-biggest component on the list with a project cost of P219 billion, would be done by the second quarter of 2023, the DOTr said.

Of the train projects, 11 are located in Luzon, with many of these aimed at providing easier access to and from Metro Manila.

New projects in Luzon were the LRT Line 4, a 19-km line from Taytay in Rizal to Ortigas Avenue; LRT Line 6, a 19-km train from Niyog in Cavite to Dasmariñas also in Cavite; the 35-km PNR North Commuter line from Tutuban to Malolos, Bulacan; and another 55-km PNR North extension from Malolos to Clark, Pampanga.

There was also a PNR South Line running 72-km from Tutuban to Los Baños, Laguna, as well as the LRT-2 East and West extension lines.

The DOTr also named a Line 5a, which is a railway “spur line” to the Makati central business district using an existing tunnel.

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The agency also detailed a 25-km Cebu rail project costing P98 billion, including right of way, a 25-km Central Philippine Rail, also with a total project cost of P86 billion, and a 20-km Mindanao Rail project, which would cost P79 billion.

“The previous government has worked hard to accelerate infrastructure development in the Philippines and the Duterte administration is redoubling efforts to achieve quantum improvement in infrastructure, including energy requirements,” Pernia said in his speech at The Philippines Energy and Infrastructure Finance Forum 2016 organized by Euromoney.

Pernia, who is also the director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), noted that the Neda Board during the Aquino administration approved 115 projects, 94 of which were infrastructure projects, worth a total of P1.64 trillion.

“These are, indeed, exciting times as we continue to move forward even faster and witness a major infrastructure boom in the Philippines. Needless to say, the new government aims to do the same. We are determined to build on gains of past administrations and ensure that public interest, especially that of the poor and disadvantaged, is at the heart of the government’s plan and projects,” Pernia said.

“We are working to accelerate annual infrastructure spending toward 5 percent of the GDP [gross domestic product] in 2017 and perhaps even hitting 7 percent in subsequent years in order to rapidly deal with our infrastructure deficit. The public-private partnership (PPP) modality of investment will continue to play a key role,” the Neda chief added.

Pernia also noted that 10 infrastructure projects are up for approval of President Rodrigo R. Duterte at the Neda Board meeting that the President will chair later this month.

The proposed projects are the North-South Railway’s south line; phase 2 of the Philippine Coast Guard’s Maritime Safety Capability Improvement project; Edsa Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit; Plaridel Bypass Toll Road; Metro Manila Flood Management; Bicol International Airport passenger terminal building; new Bohol Airport construction and sustainable environment protection project; Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center modernization; Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital project in Bohol; and Inclusive Partnerships for Agricultural Competitiveness project.

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