• NEDA Board approves Metro Manila subway

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    Construction of P355.58-B project to start next year

    Work on Metro Manila’s first subway will start next year after the project, along with other big-ticket items, was approved on Tuesday by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board.

    The P355.58-billion Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP), which will run from Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Parañaque City, is expected to address traffic congestion in the metropolis.

    “The MMSP’s first phase will significantly improve Metro Manila’s transportation system, air quality, and productivity, thereby reducing the P2.4 billion economic loss the country incurs daily due to heavy traffic,” Socioeeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said on Wednesday.

    Pernia chaired the NEDA Board’s Tuesday meeting in the absence of President Rodrigo Duterte.

    The Metro Manila subway project, the NEDA said, will be financed through official development assistance (ODA) from Japan with construction to start early next year.

    The Department of Transportation (DOTr), in a separate statement, said that it had scheduled groundbreaking for the fourth quarter of 2018.

    A loan agreement is expected to be signed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in November.

    The loan — with an interest rate of 0.10% per annum — will payable in 40 years with a grace period of 12 years.

    The DOTr said it wanted the subway to be partially open by 2022, the last year of the Duterte administration’s six-year term, and fully operational by 2025.

    Other approvals

    The NEDA Board also approved the following new flagship projects:

    • The Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) P19-billion Improving Growth Corridors in Mindanao Road Sector Project, to be funded via an Asian Development Bank (ADB) loan, that involves the upgrading of seven roads and the widening of a 40-kilometer segment with slope protection. Construction is set to begin late this year and end in the fourth quarter of 2020. Three Tawi-Tawi bridges under this project were also conditionally approved.

    • The Binondo-Intramuros and Estrella-Pantaleon bridge construction projects, also under the DPWH, that are worth a total of P97 billion. To be funded by grants from China, the Binondo-Intramuros bridge project involves the construction of a new 4-lane bridge and viaduct while the Estrella-Pantaleon bridge involves the replacement of the existing 2-lane overpass with a 4-lane facility and widening of the approach roads. Construction is set to begin in the fourth quarter of 2017 and end in the fourth quarter of 2020 with grants from the Government of China.

    • The National Irrigation Administration’s P5-billion Lower Agno River Irrigation System Improvement Project, which involves the development of a 12,650-hectare service area that will benefit 10,372 farmers in 7 municipalities in Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, and Tarlac. The project, to be funded by the national government, will be implemented from January 2018 to December 2021.

    • The Department of Finance’s Infrastructure Preparation and Innovation Facility that will support the DPWH and DOTr in delivering more effective and innovative infrastructure projects by accelerating the approval process and ensuring the timely, high-quality procurement and implementation of projects.

    Changes to several previously approved projects were also greenlighted by the NEDA Board:

    • The DOTr’s Philippine National Railway-South Line that will consist of a commuter and long-haul service. The commuter line will run for 72 kilometers from Solis-Hermosa in Manila to Los Baños in Laguna while the long-haul line will extend all the way to Sorsogon in Bicol. Expected to cost P299.4 billion, the project will be financed through ODA.

    • An extension to December 30, 2019 for the ADB loan validity covering the DPWH’s Road Improvement and Institutional Development Project.

    • An increase in the cost of the DOTr’s Cebu Bus Rapid Transit project to P16.30 billion from P10.61 billion due to land valuation changes.

    • A change in the mode of implementation for the Clark International Airport Expansion Project to build-transfer under the Amended Build-Operate-Transfer law.

    Tuesday’s Board approvals, the NEDA said, brings the total number of approved projects to 35 with a worth of P1.2 trillion, excluding the cost of the Tawi-Tawi bridges.

    “The approval and eventual completion of these projects will pave the way for us to achieve our mid-term and long-term goals as a country and a nation,” Pernia said.

    with REICELENE JOY N. IGNACIO

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