DOTr keen on starting Mindanao Railway Project by Q1

Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) - December 8, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is pushing through with its plan to break ground on the initial segment of the Mindanao Railway Project by the first quarter of next year following the approval by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) board last week.

The P82.9-billion project which will be financed through an official development assistance (ODA) from China, however, continues to await for the short list that would serve as the project’s contractor.

“At present, we are waiting for the short list of three bidders from China to bid for two packages, project monitoring consultancy and the design and build contractor. Once the Chinese government submits the list, we will immediately proceed with the bidding procedures provided by law,” Transit Assistant Secretary for Mindanao projects Eymard Eje said.

Bidding for the construction of the first phase of the Mindanao Railway Project was earlier scheduled in November, with the  contractor previously eyed to be known before the year ends.

China will provide a shortlist of three contractors for the project. The DOTr will then select which contractor will undertake the project through a limited competitive bidding.

“China ODAs are different from Japan. For Japan ODA, loan comes first then project contract agreement. For China, project contract agreement comes first and then loan agreement follows. It would be the Department of Finance (DOF) which would obtain the loan, hence, the DOF can estimate the timeline for that,” Eje said.

Phase 1 of the Mindanao Railway Project, or the Tagum-Davao-Digos segment, was approved by the NEDA board last week.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said the approval brings the Mindanao Railway Project closer to realization.

“This builds on the dream of President Duterte to generate development in Mindanao through an efficient rail system that will not only move people throughout the island of Mindanao, but will also generate needed economic growth,” Tugade said.

The initial phase of the Mindanao Railway Project aims to establish a 74-km at-grade and 26-km elevated (viaduct) commuter railway from Tagum City in Davao del Norte to Digos City in Davao del Sur.

Phase 1 will have eight stations located in Tagum, Carmen, Panabo, Mudiang, Davao, Toril, Sta. Cruz and Digos.

“This project will surely benefit those who call Mindanao their home, and also those doing business in the island. As the first railway to be built outside of Luzon, the MRP will transform the socio-economic landscape of Mindanao,” Public Works and Highways Secretary and the government’s infrastructure cluster head Mark Villar said.

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