P355.6-B project, three others, approved by Cabinet-level panel
Construction of the country’s first subway has taken a step forward following the project’s approval by a Cabinet-level committee.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) announced on Wednesday that Phase 1 of the proposed Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) had been cleared, along with two other infrastructure initiatives, by its Investment Coordinating Committee (ICC).
This means the project will now be up for President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval in his capacity as head of the NEDA Board.
The NEDA-ICC, which is chaired by the Finance secretary, includes the Socieconomic Planning, Trade, Agriculture and Budget secretaries, the Executive Secretary, and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor as members.
Longer and costlier
Originally planned to run from Quezon City to Taguig and priced at P225.17 billion, the subway will now cost P355.6 billion following the NEDA-ICC’s approval of its extension to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) complex in Paranaque.
“In most of our neighboring countries … you can reach the city without ever leaving the platform. So economic managers thought we’re going to build a subway anyway so why not push to extend it to NAIA,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said.
“It just makes perfect sense. The extension will mean greater connectivity and improved passenger comfort and convenience,” he added.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, meanwhile said: “The first phase of the MMSP will not only ease traffic in Metro Manila but also improve the quality of life of Filipinos. For one, carbon emissions will be reduced. And, with greater mobility, people can spend more time on things that matter to them.”
Groundbreaking is currently scheduled to be held in the fourth quarter of 2018. Official development assistance via the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will be used to fund the project, with the loan carrying an interest rate of 0.10% per annum payable in 40 years with a 12-year grace period.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Duterte are expected to sign the loan agreement this November
Also approved by the NEDA-ICC, meanwhile, were the mode of implementation for the Clark airport expansion and the Lower Agno River Irrigation System Improvement Project (LARISIP).
The build-transfer system will be used by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) for the P15.35-billion Clark International Airport project, which involves the construction of an additional 82,600 square meter terminal with a capacity of 8 million passengers yearly.
As earlier approved, P2.8 billion will be sourced from the Transportation department for pre-construction activities while the remaining P12.55 billion will be provided by the BCDA.
Lastly, the LARISIP will cover the development of new service areas and the rehabilitation of the Lower Agno River Irrigation System at a cost of P3.5 billion.
At least 10,000 farmers will benefit, especially as the government has committed to provide free irrigation. The project is expected to begin in January 2018 and end by December 2021.
“We want to improve our farmers’ quality of life by providing them access to irrigation and financing. This will increase their productivity, output, and income,” Pernia said.
with REICELENE JOY N. IGNACIO