Biz leaders laud approval of Mindanao rail’s Phase 1

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 June) – Business leaders were all praises after the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) board approved the phase 1 of the 830-km. Mindanao Railway Project (MRP) that will heighten the “pace of development” in the island.

In a text message Thursday, Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII) president Ronald Go said the railway project will allow for a faster movement of people and goods across Mindanao.

“A project such as this, that can connect the whole island of Mindanao and hasten the transportation of passengers, goods and products will definitely be good for all,” he said.

Go said he believes that a “faster and hopefully more expedient means of transportation will pave the way for a heightened pace of development for our local economies.”

Mindanao Business Council chair Vicente T. Lao said the railway project can also benefit the export products of Mindanao by becoming more competitive and open up opportunities for products produced by non-traditional producers.

“It will make our export products more competitive and open a lot of new areas that are not traditionally sources of these commodities,” he said.

The NEDA board announced Wednesday that it has already adopted the National Transport Policy (NTP) and approved 11 big-ticket projects that included infrastructure projects such as airports, seaports, and even education.

The P35.26-billion 102.28-km MRP Phase 1 will run from Tagum City in Davao del Norte, passing through Davao City until Digos City in Davao del Sur.

In an interview during the launch of the Tuason-owned Hijo Industrial Estates in Barangay Madaum, Tagum City on June 16, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said the national government will fund the acquisition of the right-of-way while the rest will be funded through official development assistance (ODA).

He said the construction of the rail will commence early part of 2018.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the NEDA said the National Transport Policy (NTP) “aims to unify all transport-related projects in the country” particularly by synchronizing decisions and investments of all “transport-related agencies and better coordinate such efforts between the national and local levels.”

The NTP envisions a national transport system that is “safe, secure, reliable, efficient, integrated, intermodal, affordable, cost-effective, environmentally sustainable, and people-oriented.”

Citing Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, the NEDA said that the primary goal of the Duterte Administration is to translate the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017–2022 into actual programs that will benefit Filipinos, considering the traffic in urban areas.

“The government assures the people that the problem of congestion on the roads is still being prioritized. The NTP is a priority strategy reflected in the PDP as we seek to provide accessible social services through better connectivity,” Pernia added.

The corresponding Implementing Rules and Regulations of the NTP has yet to be formulated.

The 11 projects that got the nod of the NEDA board are the following:

  1. Mindanao Railway Project (MRP) Phase 1 Tagum-Davao-Digos Segmentof the Department of Transportation (DOTr) (P35.26 billion through local financing)
  2. Malolos-Clark Railway Project (PNR North 2) of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) (P211.43 billion through ODA Financing)
  3. Cavite Industrial Area Flood Risk Management Projectof the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) (P9.89 billion through ODA Financing)
  4. Clark International Airport (CIA) Expansion Project of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) (remaining investment requirement of P12.55 billion through local financing and operations and maintenance for PPP)
  5. Education Pathways to Peace in Conflict-Affected Areas of Mindanao (PATHWAYS)of the Department of Education (DepEd) (P3.47 billion through ODA Financing)
  6. Australia Awards and Alumni Engagement Program – Philippines of the NEDA, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and Civil Service Commission (CSC) (P1.19 billion through ODA Financing)
  7. New Communications, Navigation and Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) Systems Development Project: 30-Month Loan Validity Extension and Reallocation of Fundsof the Department of Transportation (DOTr) (P10.87 billion through ODA Financing)
  8. New Configuration of the LRT Line 1 North Extension Project – Common Station / Unified Grand Central Station(North Extension Project)of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) (P2.8 billion through local financing)
  9. Change in Scope, Cost, and Financing Arrangements for the Arterial Road Bypass Project Phase IIof the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) (P4.62 billion through ODA Financing)
  10. Change in Financing of the New Centennial Water Source – Kaliwa Dam Projectof the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) (P10.86 billion through ODA Financing)
  11. Project Approval and Change in Financing of Chico River Pump Irrigation Project of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) (P2.7 billion through ODA Financing)

(Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)