MinDA sees “partial operability” of TDD segment of Mindanao railway by next year

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 04 March) – The plan of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) even for a “partial operability” of the long-delayed Tagum City-Davao City-Digos City (TDD) segment of the Mindanao Railway Project before the end of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s six-year term looks encouraging, an official said.

Romeo Montenegro, assistant secretary of the Mindanao Development Authority said there is a conscious effort to fulfill the promise of the Duterte administration to implement the priority projects in Mindanao despite various challenges.

“The plan even for partial operability of the long-cherished Mindanao Railway Project TDD segment within the current administration’s timeline looks hopeful,” he said.

Transportation Assistant Secretary Eymard Eje said the government is eyeing partial operability of the diesel-operated 102-kilometer TDD segment of the railway by March 2022.

Eje said the DOTr hopes to operationalize the section between Panabo City and neighboring Carmen town in Davao del Norte before Duterte steps down on June 30 next year.

The “flat terrain” along the Panabo-Carmen line is a good launching pad for the highly-anticipated railway project, he said.

Panabo and Carmen are among the eight areas in Davao Region where the government planned to build the stations. The six others will be constructed in Tagum City, Davao del Norte; Mudian, Davao Terminal, and Toril in Davao City; and Santa Cruz town and Digos City in Davao del Sur.

Eje said the DOTr, in coordination with the local governments units, is currently working on the right-of-way acquisition for the properties along the railway path.

He said the P81.7-billion project will be funded through the official development assistance (ODA) from the Chinese government.

He said they have yet to process the ODA with China, which requires the Philippine government to complete the procurement process for the project management consultant and the design and build contractor before it could grant the loan.

He said procurement for the project management consultant is ongoing while the agency awaits the shortlist of design and build contractors who will participate in the bidding.

Once completed, Eje said the government will then negotiate for the loan but added that this will likely be approved within the year.

He said the government will still have to accomplish the detailed engineering design once the loan is approved prior to the actual construction of the railway.

According to the agency, the TDD segment will reduce travel time from 3.5 hours to 1.3 hours between Tagum and Digos Cities and will provide “passengers safe, fast, and reliable transport options on the TDD commuter line.”

It is expected to serve approximately 134,000 riders a day by 2022, up to 237,000 by 2032, and 375,000 by 2042.

The TDD segment is the first phase of the 1,550-kilometer railway that aims to connect the key cities of Davao, Butuan, Surigao, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Cotabato, Zamboanga and General Santos upon its completion. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)