JFC alarmed over failed LRT-1 bidding

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The Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) has expressed alarm over the recent unsuccessful bidding of the P60-billion Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1)—Cavite Extension Project, where three of the four prequalified groups withdrew from the bidding while the last group failed to meet the terms of reference.

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“This project is the largest and one of the most important under the revitalized PPP [public-private partnership] program of the Philippine government. It extends mass rail transit to densely populated corridor south of Manila in Cavite province, where member-companies have business operations employing many thousands of employees,” the JFC said in a statement.

“The rail extension will also greatly facilitate travel by residents in those areas to business and school districts in Metro Manila. For years the fast-growing northern Cavite area has been highly congested, causing long commuting delays and straining existing transport infrastructure,” it added.

On August 15, four groups were supposed to submit their proposals for the project to the Department of Transportation and Communication-Light Rail Transit Authority Special Bids and Awards Committee.

However, three groups, SMC Infra Resources Inc., DMCI Holdings Inc. and MTD-Samsung Group all withdrew from the bidding, leaving the Manny Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) as the lone bidder.

But the committee found MPIC’s proposal to be non-compliant to the terms of reference, putting a halt to the bidding.

“The LRT-1 project,” the statement said, is “vital to improved transportation efficiency for commuters in the region south of Metro Manila. With the strong economic growth the Philippines has achieved in 2013 and is expected to maintain, future growth may be impeded by delays in critical transportation projects such as the LRT-1 extension.”

The JFC said in the statement that the non-implementation of the project in the previous administration was one of its worst infrastructure failures, and warned the that current Aquino administration that it has less than three years to complete the project.

According to JFC, the project is among the most needed transportation projects in Metro Manila, together with the Metro Rail Transit-7 project and the LRT Line 2 east extension.

“The JFC urges the government to ensure that this project and all PPPs are commercially attractive and viable, both in terms of risk and reward,” the statement said.

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