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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Govt will prioritize big-ticket transport projects–Marcos

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President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Monday said more big-ticket transportation projects are already in the works as part of government efforts to “revive” the country’s rail industry and boost the economy.

During the start of the tunneling work for the Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) in Valenzuela City, Marcos said his administration will prioritize the construction of similar projects.

“We will continue to invest in and improve our transportation systems as well as pursue more projects in the years to come, so that Filipinos can gain greater access to places of work, commerce, recreation, and other vital areas,” he said.

“Having an effective and efficient transportation system will have multiplier effects on employment, the economy, [and] our society; it will bring comfort, convenience, [and] an easier life for all,” he added.

Challenges

Dubbed as the “crown jewel of the mass transit system” by the Department of Transportation (DOTr), the 33-kilometer MMSP is the first underground railway system, which will connect eight cities from Valenzuela City to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay City.

Preparations for the P448.4-billion project started as early as during the previous administration. It is being financed by the Japanese government and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

JICA Philippine Office Chief Representative Sakamoto Takema said the project will push through despite the numerous challenges it faced including acquisition and right-of-way matters, timely budget allocation and contract, influence of the pandemic, and the serious traffic congestion in the construction sites.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2028 and serve over 519,000 passengers daily although the DOTr had said meeting the said deadline will be “challenging.”

Sakamoto also assured that JICA will continue extending assistance to the government for the realization of “Japan-quality” public transportation systems.

Pending projects

Transportation Secretary Jaime J. Bautista said the government is targeting to undertake six more railway projects and craft a transportation road map.

Of the six projects, he said three are set to undergo feasibility and technical studies this year.

“The Department of Transportation has already secured over 6 million dollars to fund the feasibility studies for the development of the Panay Railway, Bataan Railway, and the North long-haul Inter-Regional railway, which will connect Ilocos and Cagayan with the National Capital Region,” Bautista said.

He said the government is still in the process of securing the funding for the feasibility studies for three more railway projects, namely, the San Mateo Railway, Northern Mindanao Railway, as well as the Philippine Transport System Master plan.

“With these [projects], the Marcos administration will be able to revive the country’s rail industry,” Baustista said.

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