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Gov’t eyes other financiers for Northrail project

MANILA, Philippines—The government may replace China as the main financier of the controversial Northrail project, which aims to link Metro Manila to provinces like Pampanga through a train system.

Transportation Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II said discussions with Chinese government officials were on hold in deference to the upcoming leadership change in Beijing.

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Once negotiations for the project resume, Roxas said the government’s main demand would be to replace the current contractor, Sinomach Corp., which “has very little to no experience in building train lines.”

He said his department would seek better contract terms for the Philippines. If China would not agree, Roxas said the Philippines might look to other “friendly governments” or even multilateral lenders willing to fund the rail line’s construction.

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Despite starting construction in 2004, less than a kilometer of the supposedly 80-kilometer, Overseas Development Assistance loan-funded train line was built by Sinomach at a highly inflated cost.

The train tracks built were also designed for low-speed trains that were not strong enough to handle the high-speed train system the government now wants.

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TAGS: Investments, NorthRail, Philippines, rail transport, Railway, transportation
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