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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Gov’t to pursue MRP, other big-ticket projects

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The Marcos administration is keen on pursuing the Mindanao Rail Project (MRP) initiated by its predecessor, but was shelved after China pulled out from the funding negotiations.

After President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s first State of the Nation Address, the Cabinet’s infrastructure cluster led by Public Works Secretary Manuel Bonoan said the government would continue several big-ticket infrastructure projects.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Tuesday said it will resubmit the MRP to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) after the Finance department cancelled the funding request from Chinese government.

“We will have to resubmit project to the NEDA in the coming weeks because it has already been approved in the past. The intention is to continue the project whether we are going to PPP [Public Private Partnership] or ODA [official development assistance]. We will leave it to the DOF and NEDA,” Undersecretary for Rails Cesar Chavez said during a forum.

Former Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez cancelled the loan application to China worth nearly P300 billion to finance several railway projects, including the MRP after Beijing did not act on its promised funding.

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According to the DOTr, the 102-km MRP which includes the Tagum-Davao-Digos (TDD) segment will cut travel time from Tagum City in Davao del Norte to Digos City in Davao del Sur from 3.5 hours to 1.3 hours.

The P81 billion TDD project is the first of the three portions of the MRP.  The TDD is expected to not only make travel faster, but also safer, more convenient and comfortable for passengers in this corridor. It will have eight stations, namely: Tagum; Carmen; Panabo; Mudiang; Davao Terminal; Toril; Sta. Cruz; and Digos. A 10-hectare depot will be built in Tagum.

The rail line will be constructed with a single track, with provisions for future tracks and electrification. It will have six five-car passenger trains (Diesel Multiple Units) with three spare cars, four locomotives and 15 freight cars.

Upon project completion, the DOTr expects the daily ridership of the Tagum-Davao-Digos segment to increase to 134,060 and further increase to 237,023 by 2032 and 375,134 by 2042.

Chavez also said that the government will pursue the completion of the 147-kilometer North-South Commuter Railway System (NSCR) connecting Clark in Pampanga and Calamba, Laguna.

The NSCR System, with 35 stations spanning 28 towns and cities from Mabalacat, Pampanga to Calamba, Laguna was designed to serve over a million passengers a day upon completion.

The project is expected to create around 50,000 direct jobs and 110,000 indirect jobs during the construction stage and an additional 8,000 jobs upon completion.

Bonoan said the goal was to “sustain rapid growth and attract investment and create economic opportunities for all Filipinos.”

An inter-island mega bridge linkage program will construct 80 kilometers of roads linking different high-economic activity areas with 11 bridges, Bonoan said.

A mega bridge will link Bataan and Cavite; bridges will also connect Panay, Guimaras, and Negros islands; a 4th bridge will connect Mactan Island to the Cebu mainland.

An offshore bridge connector will ease transport between Panglao and Tagbilaran City in Bohol.

The Guicam Bridge will connect the towns of Alicia and Mabuhay in Zamboanga Sibugay, while three more bridges in Tawi-Tawi were proposed.

Bonoan said the Panguil Bay Bridge, which will connect Tangub, Misamis Occidental and Tubod, Lanao del Norte will also be completed under the Marcos administration.

The DPWH also targets the full construction of a 3-kilometer connector bridge between Samal Island and Davao City.

More bridges across Pasig, Marikina, and Manggahan rivers will be constructed to improve logistics in Metro Manila and ease congestion.

Bonoan also said the planned Luzon expressway network program will reduce travel time from the Ilocos region to the Bicol region from 20 hours to only nine hours.

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