Gov’t to fast-track Mindanao rail project
The Duterte administration plans to fast-track the rollout of the P120-billion initial phase of the “high priority” Mindanao railway project that will connect the southern island’s major cities.
The Department of Transportation last week submitted to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) the feasibility study for the 100-kilometer first phase of the railway that will run through Tagum, Davao City and Digos in the Davao regions, Neda Undersecretary Rolando G. Tungpalan told the Inquirer.
At last week’s meeting of Neda’s Investment Coordination Committee (ICC), they committed to review the DOTr’s feasibility study within six weeks, Tungpalan said.
“We will have a special ICC [meeting] on account of the high priority [of the Mindanao Railway project]… We might call for a joint [Neda ICC] technical board-Cabinet [committee meeting] by early June,” Tungpalan added.
According to Tungpalan, they were looking to have the project approved by the Neda Board, chaired by the President, during a meeting tentatively scheduled on June 13.
Tungpalan said the Mindanao railway project would be funded under the national budget to fast-track rollout. “We are not committing this to any ODA [official development assistance].”
The Neda official said the “circumferential” phase of the railway would be prioritized due to the high traffic in the island’s major cities, although there was also a plan to have it branch out to the Zamboanga peninsula.
The Neda earlier said the proposed 2,000-kilometer Mindanao railway would connect the island’s growth centers through the construction of modern railroad tracks, operation of state-of-the-art rolling stocks and the construction of terminals in strategic areas where trading posts would likewise be established.
The railway system will traverse a series of cities and provinces to form a Mindanao-wide rail network and will link itself to major ports and other gateways on the island, according to Neda.
Besides the Tagum-Davao-Digos section, it will also connect key Mindanao cities such as Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Iligan, Surigao and Zamboanga, according to Neda. —BEN O. DE VERA
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