South Korean funding is being eyed for a flagship transportation project under the government’s “Build Build Build” program, a Finance department official said.
Finance Assistant Secretary Maria Edita Tan told reporters that a portion of planned Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems would be proposed for official development assistance from Seoul.
The National Economic and Development Authority earlier this year announced that the Export-Import Bank of Korea had offered to provide $1 billion in concessional loans — to be spread out over six years — for public infrastructure projects.
“Right now, we have identified two projects that is actually part of the flagship program of the government. One of them is … the New Cebu International Container Port, and the other one is [the]Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit Line 2,” Tan said.
The Finance department announced in June that the P9.19-billion Cebu container port project had already been approved by Seoul.
The government is looking to use South Korean funds for the P36.76-billion BRT Line 2 central corridor that is part of the EDSA Bus Rapid Transit project, a 48.6-kilometer bus-based mass transportation system that will include a corresponding pedestrian and bicycle path network.
The government’s “Build Build Build” website states that the EDSA BRT will have four corridors: a main one along EDSA and spurs along Ayala Ave. in Makati to the World Trade Center, Ortigas Ave. to Bonifacio Global City in Taguig and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminals.
The EDSA project, along with similary systems on Quezon Ave. and C-5, is one of three BRTs proposed for Metro Manila.
The $109.4-million BRT Line 1 spanning Quezon Ave. to Espana has been allocated $64.6 million by the World Bank, with the remainder to be shouldered by the government.
BRTs run on dedicated lanes using buses instead of trains. Unlike railways, the system is simpler and cheaper to construct, operate and maintain.
Tan said the government was considering forwarding more projects to Seoul for funding.
“We do have a rolling pipeline, we are scheduled to have a meeting with them to strengthen the pipeline, making sure that it is actually aligned with the priorities of the government. But we are looking at increasing the number of projects part of the infrastructure plan,” she said.
Under a proposed cooperation agreement, South Korea’s priority areas for funding Philippine projects comprise transport, energy infrastructure, and information and communications technology.
Seven projects have been identified as in the pipeline by the Finance department. These involve marine navigation aids for Luzon and the Visayas, the New Dumaguete Airport project, hybrid power generation systems, a multi-grain processing center for Mindoro, a national animal identification and traceability system, drive-through inspection facilities in international ports of entry, and the automated collection of slaughter data and issuance of meat inspection certificates.