State-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) is open to a possible partnership with a Japanese company for its P200-billion, 82-kilometer rail system
project that will link Malolos City in Bulacan to Clark in Pampanga.
“We are open to a partnership with them [Japanese company]. We don’t have anything definite yet. There’s no commitment yet. There’s no MOU [memorandum of understanding],” BCDA President and chief executive officer (CEO) Arnel Paciano Casanova told reporters on Monday.
He added, “We’re hoping that they will participate eventually.”
When asked if they are looking at a partnership with Hitachi Ltd. for the rail project, Casanova replied: “We are looking into that. They are very, very limited. We haven’t made a commitment yet, but they are studying the structure. They are very, very interested.”
“We are looking at different players. Definitely it will come in the form of a consortium. It’s a big project,” Casanova said.
“There are very few railway companies. Hitachi is very good in infra and technology—like the trains in Tokyo,” he explained.
In March, the BCDA said that it was outlining the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the Clark Rail Transit System, as BCDA is scheduled to tender the project before the end of the year.
“We are actually looking at a different model. We are also open to a proposal, from a group of companies who will form a consortium,” Casanova said.
“We have a draft TOR. We are open to a proposal eventually that will come from a group of companies who will form a consortium. BCDA wants a joint venture (JV) instead of civil works contracts,” he said.
“This is a different model. We are hoping that we will come up with the agreement before the end of the year. But it is subject to the president’s approval. Hopefully, our target really is within the year,” Casanova said, “a proposal or TOR that we can bring to the attention of the president.”
Interested in PPP projects
When asked if Hitachi is interested in the government’s public-private partnership (PPP) projects, Mitsuhiko Shimizu, general manager of Hitachi Asia Ltd. Philippines, said: “Yes, we have interest in projects run by PPP, specifically on railway projects or airport projects and so on.”
He added: “We have some companies here but basically it depends on the project, so that our partner—depending on the project—we assess the potential and the right partners for each particular project.”
When asked what specific projects they are working on, he said, “I cannot disclose any particular name of the project at the moment. Of course we have to collaborate with Philippine companies, contractors, but at the moment I cannot disclose the name of the partner.”
“Maybe three companies or four companies, it’s quite broad, but almost all deals on infrastructure, also ICT [information and communications technology]projects. So maybe our potential partners should be more than five, or 10,” he said.
When asked about the extent of discussions with the government for the Clark railway project, he replied: “Hitachi is a manufacturer. So we have some interest in utilities, public transportation, water management, energy management. We are not a developer of properties.”
Meanwhile, Ichiro Iino, chairman of Hitachi Asia Ltd. said: “I think Hitachi is a very unique company in terms of capability. We do not only design and manufacture rolling stock trains, we also design and manufacture train signaling systems, train management systems.”
Iino said they can supply the whole package including the fare collection system and ticketing system, “or we can go beyond the train to build a small commercial complex next door to the train station like we have in Japan.”
He added: “We are closely working with a large entity. If we talk about a large complex, we will work with the real estate developer to bring the commercial complex inside the station and we can also supply the non-cash money card, electronic cash card, so that you can buy tickets, you can ride on the bus, you can buy things using one card.”
“So we will supply entire systems required around the transportation systems. We are capable of that so we will be able to contribute to building the ecosystem around transportation in the Philippines,” Iino said.
“We are working with the government. We are working with the private sectors. Clark development is one of the project swe are currently trying to engage in, Clark Green City. They need transportation. They need an ecosystem,” he said.
Iino added: “We have many options. We do not limit our option to the monorail. We can provide metro, we can provide light rail transit system, monorails. We have various options. We have to find the solution to meet the demands in Clark or anywhere else in the Philippine mass transport system.”