DOTr: RROW acquisition for phase 1 of Mindanao railway completed by Q3 of 2021

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 April) – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) targets to complete the acquisition of the road right of way (RROW) for the 102-kilometer phase 1 of the Mindanao Railway Project by the third quarter of 2021.

During the virtual news conference on 2020 economic performance of Davao Region on Thursday, Maria Lourdes Lim, regional director of National Economic Development Authority-Davao, said the negotiation for the acquisition of RROW for the depot and stations sites of the Tagum City-Davao City-Digos City (TDD) segment of the railway project is ongoing with the property owners.

She said acquisition rates vary in Tagum City, Carmen, and Panabo in Davao del Norte, Santa Cruz and Digos City in Davao del Sur, and Davao City.

Once completed, Lim said actual construction of phase 1 is expected to begin by the fourth quarter of this year or only months away before President Rodrigo R. Duterte steps down on June 30, 2022.

“However, the loan negotiation between governments of Philippines and China – this is an ODA (official development assistance)-funded project – is still being perfected,” she said.

The cost of the TDD segment is pegged at P81.7 billion, according to DOTr.

The TDD segment is the first phase of the 1,550-kilometer MRP that aims to connect the key cities of Davao, Butuan, Surigao, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Cotabato, Zamboanga and General Santos.

Lim said the Chinese government will still have to identify three shortlisted Chinese bidders that will participate in the “tendering process for the actual construction of the railway TDD segment.”

Although the entire phase 1 may not be fully operational by the end of Duterte’s administration, DOTr secretary Arthur Tugade promised “partial operability” of the TDD segment, she added.

Last February, DOTr assistant secretary Eymard Eje said the government hopes to operationalize the section between Panabo City and adjacent Carmen town in Davao del Norte.

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

The two areas, along with Tagum City in Davao del Norte, Mudian, Davao Terminal, and Toril in Davao City, and Santa Cruz town and Digos City in Davao del Sur, will host stations of the railway.

DOTr said 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. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)