Dubbed as the “Golden Age of Infrastructure,” one of the priorities of the Duterte administration is infrastructure development. With the recent approval of the 2018 budgets of the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Transportation, promising infrastructure projects that are meant to improve road networks and the transportation system of the country will soon be on their way.
The worsening metro traffic congestion continues to plague the nation. According to a study of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, our country loses P2.4 billion a day due to the Metro Manila traffic jam. This could go up to P6 billion a day by 2030 if the government fails to address the traffic menace with urgency. Hence, I am hopeful that the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program will not only address the current traffic problem but will also improve the quality of life of the Filipinos in the long run.
It is high time that we implement long-term plans that would address the worsening metro traffic condition and improve the lives of the Filipinos. Hence, it is good news that the National Economic and Development Authority Board, headed by President Duterte, approved last Tuesday the P358.25-billion Mega Manila Subway Project Phase 1, after thorough evaluation and initial approval by the Neda Investment Coordination Committee, led by Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia.
The Mega Manila Subway will be the country’s first subway system, which will run from Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City to Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Parañaque City. The first phase of project alignment would have 13 stops, which is expected to serve 350,000 passengers daily.
The initial subway project cost was $ 4.4 billion with a Phase 1 target completion by 2024. However, with the desire to partially open the subway system before the end of President Duterte’s term in 2022, the cost was raised to $7 billion. To finance the project, the government would secure the biggest official development assistance from Japan through a loan from JICA. The loan will have 0.10 percent interest payable within 40 years, with a grace period of 12 years. President Duterte and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be signing the loan agreement at the Asean summit in November 2017.
Before we enjoy the advantages of the fruition of this project, we have to endure the worsening of the already problematic metro traffic situation. In preparation for the construction of the project, which is initially set to start by the fourth quarter of 2018, we have to make certain sacrifices starting this year. I am glad that Metro Manila Development Authority General Manager and concurrent DOTr Undersecretary Thomas Orbos committed to implement the 3-digit number coding scheme, which is expected to eliminate 30 percent of the vehicles from the road daily. I also look forward to the cooperation of the local government units and the MMDA in clearing secondary roads and alternate routes to ensure continuous flow of traffic. Traffic congestion tolls high rates of inefficiencies, across the board.
I fully support the Mega Manila subway project and I look forward to harvesting the fruits of what we are planting today. This is for the Filipino people, most especially for our children who will be the future of our nation.