MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Grace Poe on Thursday cautioned the government against entering possible disadvantageous contracts in the construction of the Mega Manila subway, one of the big-ticket infrastructure projects the government revealed days ago, as the 13 stations of the proposed underground system were unveiled.
Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public services, said that although the government needs to invest in infrastructure it should still be careful with its contracts to avoid the “disadvantageous contracts” that hounded the MRT which had greatly inconvenienced the public.
“We have to invest now, build now, but not without exercising caution. Having a reliable public transportation system, especially railway, will not only spell public convenience but also contribute to economic growth,” the senator said.
Poe said that the subway design should complement the road transport design on the ground and should consider the accessibility and walkability of each station stop with that of other public transportation.
"Transport interconnectivity is key to a thriving economy and improving the lives of our people. I hope that this time the administration, in considering the location of each station, will prioritize public convenience and accessibility over private interests,” said Poe.
The government is finalizing the agreement for the P227-billion subway that Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe were expected to sign this year.
The construction of the first leg of the subway system, which will connect Quezon City to Taguig, is expected to be finished in 2024. Once operational, it is expected to service around 350,000 passengers daily.
The proposed 13 stations of the subway system are:
Poe said that the design of the subway system should be “future-proof” and should have room for expansion to accommodate the growing population of Metro Manila.
She said that the government should hire the best engineers in the construction of the public to ensure that the system would successfully run despite flooding and other natural calamities that regularly visited the nation.
Poe, one of the presidential candidates President Rodrigo Duterte beat in last year’s election, said that the investment of the government in the 25-kilometer underground rail system was meant not only to ease traffic congestion but also spur economic growth.
Based on a study of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the country loses P3 billion a day from traffic congestion. This figure is expected to rise to P6 billion a day as road traffic in the capital is expected to increase by 13 percent from 2012 to 2030.
"Although it is relatively costly and the construction time will take a little bit longer as reportedly said by Transport officials, an underground mass transport will help decongest road traffic as there will be less road disturbance to the above-ground environment,” Poe said.