Zamora offers to build $1.5-B LRT4
Businessman Salvador B. Zamora II wants to again invest in railways, this time with an offer to build and operate the $1.5 billion Light Rail Transit Line 4 in Metro Manila.
The proposed 20-kilometer line, which would link densely populated areas in Taytay, Rizal and the Ortigas Business District, would be Zamora’s newest foray into railway sector after he sold his interest in Metro Rail Transit Line 7 to San Miguel Corp. last year.
“We are preparing the papers,” Zamora said in a recent interview, saying he had initial talks with the Department of Transportation.
This approach is called an unsolicited proposal which, if accepted, would require a competitive bidding or Swiss challenge.
Under a Swiss challenge, rival bidders will be allowed to submit better offers, but the original proponent will be given the chance to match those terms and win the project.
Zamora said he was also exploring another option, given recent statements by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to require certain businesses, including public transportation companies, to secure a congressional franchise to operate.
“It might be easier to go with a franchise, you are protected by the law,” Zamora noted.
The private sector sees big opportunities in railways, given their massive commercial potential, apart from their role in cutting congestion that continues to plague Metro Manila.
Apart from SMC’s involvement in MRT-7, a consortium led by Ayala Corp. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. operates the LRT-1. Metro Pacific also recently revived an offer to rehabilitate and operate the troubled MRT-3 project along Edsa.
An LRT-4 project used to be part of the Public-Private Partnership program under the Aquino administration.
It was approved by the board of the National Economic and Development Authority in 2015. That approval was good for only six months and it lapsed in early 2016.
Based on a project brief dated November 2015, the LRT-4 was hoped to address limited transportation options for residents in Taytay and nearby areas.
“Ortigas Avenue is highly congested; with over 4,000 public transport passengers every hour and travel speeds during peak hour of around 12 kilometers/hour—much lower than the average for Metro Manila,” according to the brief prepared by the then Department of Transportation and Communications.
The department said most districts had more than 100,000, with some areas topping 200,000. The Taytay area was also growing at least 3 percent yearly.
It added that the LRT-4 PPP would have a 34-year concession period.
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