Fate of 1st PH subway proposal known late March
MANILA, Philippines – Will the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board chaired by President Benigno Aquino III approve the proposal for the country's first-ever subway project when it meets in late March?
Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center Executive Director Cosette Canilao said the NEDA Board is set to meet on either March 24 or 25 to decide on the approval of the P370-billion ($8.39-billion) PPP project.
"If the Mass Transit System Loop is approved, we can start bidding toward the latter part of the second quarter," Canilao said during the press conference at the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Finance and Central Bank Deputies' Meeting Wednesday, March 4 in Tagaytay City.
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is pursuing the project that would connect the cities of Makati, Taguig, and Pasay. It aims to improve inter-city linkage by providing a higher capacity public transportation system, as well as address the high volume of vehicular traffic traversing the major business districts of Metro Manila.
While the public seems excited about what would be the first subway in the country, sentiments are mixed among the government and private sectors over the viability of the project which, if approved, would be the most expensive PPP to be rolled out by the Aquino administration.
For instance, NEDA asked DOTC to present the route using 26th Street instead of 32nd Street inside Bonifacio Global City for the 12-kilometer Mass Transit System Loop project because the government would have to spend an extra P20 billion ($453.34 million) for the route using 32nd Street, DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya previously explained.
DOTC prefers 32nd Street as the last stop because the 26th Street route could entail some legal issues and impediments as the subway system would have to pass through Manila Golf along McKinley Avenue.
Meanwhile, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said building a light rail system is easier and cheaper than the subway system thus exploring all possibilities to develop the country’s rail network might be a more feasible option.
MVIS PPP, knowledge sharing
Another PPP project up for NEDA Board approval is the P19.3-billion ($437.61-million) Motor Vehicle Inspection System, Canilao shared.
The project includes the development and operations and maintenance (O&M) of a national network of motor vehicle inspection centers, using inspection methods that will be linked to the information system of the Land Transportation Office (LTO).
By 2035, the motor vehicle population in the country is estimated to reach almost 35 million, the PPP Center said.
During the meeting, APEC delegates discussed various means to accelerate PPPs, seen as helpful in boosting job-generating investments.
PPP is an initiative whereby the private sector is tapped to invest in public projects or programs to help fill in the investment gap.
In the meeting, delegates agreed that APEC member-economies should constantly share their respective knowledge in PPP.
One proposal is for APEC members to have a "PPP Knowledge Portal" accessible to all of them.
"We are delighted to see APEC economies come together to exchange knowledge in PPP," Canilao said.
In the Philippines, contracts for 9 solicited PPP infrastructure projects amounting to about $2.9 billion, have been awarded since the start of the Aquino administration in 2010.
The number is more than the total of 6 awarded contracts in the previous 3 administrations combined. (READ: Aquino: More PPP projects awarded than past 3 admins) – Rappler.com
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