Public-private partnership eyed for Mindanao light rail project

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/13 January) – The long-proposed light railway transit project for Mindanao may be done as a public-private partnership, an official said.

In a presentation at the weekly Kapihan sa SM on Monday, National Economic and Development Authority regional director Maria Lourdes Lim said a public-private partnership scheme for the project is being eyed for the Davao region this year.

Davao Light and Power Co. (DLPC) chief operating officer Arturo M. Milan said the light railway project is only feasible through a public-private partnership.

Milan said that while a railway system would be expensive if city-funded, it would not be the case if it is funded from national sources.

“Businesses should look at this as an investment into the future,” he said, adding it would accelerate development, especially in terms of the movement of goods and people.

“What is really needed for Mindanao to develop is a mass transport system,” he said.

Milan, however, cited the need for a company that would invest in power projects using the public-private partnership as a mechanism.

“We don’t have any idea about it yet, but if I were to look at it (light rail system), it should be more integrated into the existing electricity supplies,” he said.

He said energy supply for the system could be obtained from DLPC as well as from electric cooperatives in other regions that the railways would pass through.

Milan added that he was not particular with the kind of railway system that Mindanao could use.

In a press conference last year, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said he was pushing for an increased power supply in the region so that a rail system could be built before his term ends in 2016.

However, an integrated transportation study last year by the Asian Development Bank said it would be impractical for Davao City to have a railway system because of the cost.

The study suggested feeder routes and bus systems instead.

In the same presentation, Lim said the public-private partnership arrangement may include the Tagum Water District joint venture for bulk water supply, the Tamugan water surface development, Sta. Ana wharf development project, Davao food exchange complex, and the Davao Sasa port project. (MindaNews)