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Mindanao Railway construction set to start in 2022

/ 05:12 AM September 17, 2021

The construction of the first phase of the China-funded Mindanao Railway will begin by the first half of 2022, according to Transportation Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan.

Among the big-ticket infrastructure projects delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mindanao Railway Phase 1 involves building a 100-kilometer train line connecting Tagum, Davao and Digos.

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“We are already catching up [to build] the Mindanao railway,” Batan told lawmakers during the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) budget hearings before the House of Representatives earlier this week.

He said right-of-way acquisition activities were hampered by the lockdowns that were imposed during the health crisis.

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“Usually, the right-of-way process involves surveying, issuance of offers to buy and notices to property owners, which were all constrained because of quarantine restrictions,” he said.

He said the DOTr would also complete the bidding of the project once their Chinese counterparts submit the final list of “prequalified” contractors.

“As soon as we receive that, which we expect within this fourth quarter, we will be proceeding with the procurement for the Mindanao Railway and start construction by the first half of next year,” Batan said.

Dev’t assistance

He added the project would be completed by 2024-2025.

With a cost of P81.7 billion, the Mindanao Railway Phase 1 is among the major infrastructure projects funded by official development assistance (ODA) loans from the Chinese government.

Once fully operational, travel time between Tagum City to Digos City will be reduced to about an hour from the current 3.5 hours.

The line will also have eight stations: Tagum, Carmen, Panabo, Mudiang, Davao, Toril, Sta. Cruz and Digos.

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The project is part of the proposed 830-km Mindanao Railway Loop, which will connect key portions of the island.

China is the third-largest source of ODA loans for railway projects after Japan and the Asian Development Bank, according to the most recent list of flagship infrastructure projects issued by the National Economic and Development Authority.

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TAGS: Mindanao railway, Timothy John Batan
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