Neda chief: Mega Manila Subway project up for Palace OK in September
The country’s first subway system will be up for President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval next month ahead of the planned signing of the loan agreement between the Philippine and Japanese governments in November, the country’s chief economist said Thursday.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia told a press conference that the P230-billion Mega Manila Subway Project Phase 1 will be in the agenda of the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) Board, chaired by the President, in its meeting early September.
“The subway is going to be the project of the century for the Philippines,” said Pernia, who heads the state planning agency Neda.
Neda documents showed that the project was still pending approval of Neda’s Investment Coordination Committee (ICC), but Pernia later told reporters that it can be fast-tracked ahead of the Neda Board meeting.
Pernia said the feasibility study for the proposed subway was already completed, while the scope and financing were being finalized at the ICC level.
The Neda chief said they were eyeing below 1-percent interest for the loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), payable in 20 years with a 15-year grace period.
Groundbreaking for the project will be in December next year, for completion by 2022, Neda documents showed.
The loan will be signed by Duterte and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the Asean Summit set in November.
READ: Duterte, Abe to sign deal paving for Mega Manila subway
In June, Pernia disclosed to the Inquirer that the Philippine government was eyeing to secure the largest official development assistance (ODA) from Japan for the subway system that will serve Metro Manila and surrounding areas.
Pernia had said that an estimated $4.4 billion in ODA from Jica was in the pipeline to finance the Mega Manila Subway Project.
To date, the biggest ODA loan package provided by Jica to the Philippines was 241.9 billion yen or about $2 billion for the $2.88-billion North-South Commuter Railway Project that will connect Tutuban in Manila to Malolos, Bulacan.
According to the government’s “Build, Build, Build” website, the Department of Transportation-led project will connect major business hubs and government centers in the metropolis through a 25-kilometer underground mass transportation system connecting Quezon City and Taguig City.
In its first year of operation, it will serve about 370,000 passengers, complementing existing rail systems in Metro Manila such as the Light Rail Transit and Metro Rail Transit systems.
A separate Jica briefing paper in May showed that the entire subway could extend beyond Metro Manila to San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan up north and Dasmariñas City, Cavite down south.
Based on Jica’s roadmap study, the Mega Manila Subway could run up to 75 kilometers with 23 stations.
So as not to disrupt activity above ground while rolling out the project, Jica had said the plan was to undertake “underground construction adjacent to existing substructures.”
Given that Metro Manila is also prone to floods, the project will entail “application of water shut panels to prevent from inundation during heavy flooding,” Jica had said.
The subway will also spur commercial activities through “non-railway facilities in front of, and along, underground stations,” according to Jica. JPV
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