Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Asian Development Bank vice president Ahmed Saeed on Thursday signed a $1.3-billion loan, the first tranche of a total $2.75-billion facility, for the Malolos–Clark Railway Project in a ceremony witnessed by President Rodrigo Duterte at Malacañan Palace.
“Our work in the Philippines has always held a special place in the history of ADB. Now, under President Duterte’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ infrastructure program, ADB is considerably scaling up its own support to the government,” Saeed said.
“The Malolos–Clark Railway Project is ADB’s single largest infrastructure project financing ever at $2.75 billion. We are pleased to be supporting this important flagship project in our host country,” he said.
The Malolos–Clark railway is part of the Philippine government’s North-South Commuter Railway project which aims to link New Clark City to Calamba City in Laguna by 2025.
The project will use cutting-edge technology to build an elevated railway line, with a maximum train speed of 160 kilometers per hour, to help ease chronic road congestion in and around Metro Manila, reduce air pollution, cut the costs of transport and logistics and encourage economic growth and a population shift outside the capital.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency is co-financing the project with additional financing of up to $2 billion for the rolling stock and the railway systems.
The Malolos-Clark project is a result of close collaboration between ADB, Jica and the Department of Transportation.
A joint technical team from the department and the two institutions conducted regular “Build, Build, Build” meetings with reporting to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade. ADB’s safeguard and resettlement policies were adopted and are being implemented for the project.
Civil works contracts under the project are being bid out, with the first contract awards expected in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Other ADB projects under preparation this year include the Edsa Greenways Project which will construct elevated walkways along busy intersections in Metro Manila and additional financing for the metropolis’ main water supply system under the Angat Water Transmission Improvement Project.
Under preparation is additional financing for the Infrastructure Preparation and Innovation Facility which will help prepare feasibility studies and detailed engineering designs of other flagship projects of the government.
ADB assistance to the Philippines is expected to hit a record $2.5 billion for 2019, more than double its average annual financing of $1 billion in the last three years.
ADB’s future proposed projects include financing for the Blumentritt–Calamba section of the North-South Commuter Railway project in 2020 and the railway extension to New Clark City in 2022, with co-financing from Jica.