Chinese eye Mindanao rail
DAVAO CITY—At least four Chinese companies have already expressed interest to build an P82.9-billion segment of the Mindanao railway project (MRP), government officials said.
Eymard Eje, Department of Transportation (DoTr) assistant secretary for project implementation-Mindanao cluster, named state-owned Chinese firms China Railway International Group (CRIG) and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) among those interested in the project.
Li Lin, the Chinese consul general in Davao City, earlier identified China State Construction Engineering Corp (CSCEC) and China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) as the two firms interested to undertake the railway project.
“It is the government of the People’s Republic of China that will nominate at least three Chinese contractors that will participate in the bidding for the MRP [segment],” Eje said.
President Duterte has identified the MRP as one of the government’s priority infrastructure projects during his first State of the Nation Address in 2016, but more than halfway into his term, the project has yet to gain steam. For Mindanao, the railroad has been a lifelong dream to link people, goods and services in the growth areas of the country’s second largest island to the major markets abroad.
Eje said the construction of the first phase of the railway from Tagum, Davao City to Digos City was projected to start within the first quarter of 2020 and could be partially operated by February 2022.
The 102-kilometer segment that will pass through the President’s home city was supposed to start last year. Design changes delayed the scheduled implementation and inflated the budget cost to P82.9 billion from P35.9 billion, according to DOTr.
“It is very likely that the design and build contract can be awarded around the end of January 2020,” Eje told the Inquirer.
Li said tapping Chinese firms was part of the loan deal Beijing was extending to Mindanao.
He described the Mindanao railway “as one of the major cooperation projects between China and the Philippines,” following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Manila in November last year.
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