China funding eyed for Mindanao railway

Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The government hopes to sign the long-awaited loan agreement with China this year to jumpstart the construction of the country’s first train system outside Luzon.

“Once the procurement process is finished, there will be a loan negotiation and after that, there will be a scheduled signing. We are optimistic on that within this year,” Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary Eymard Eje said in a virtual briefing yesterday.

Eje said procurement for project management consultant of the P81.7-billion Mindanao Railway project is ongoing.

However, he said the government continues to wait for the shortlist of project contractors to be provided by China.

“For the design and build contractors, we are just waiting for the shortlist of the design and build contractors that would participate in the bidding process. Should we get this at the soonest possible time, the procurement process will immediately move forward. Once that is completed, then that is only when the negotiation for the loan process could start,” Eje said.

Once the loan process is completed, he said it would take three to six months to conduct the detailed engineering design of the project

Eyed for partial operability by March next year are the Panabo and Carmen stations.

Phase 1 of the Mindanao Railway Project, or the Tagum-Davao-Digos segment, was approved by the NEDA board in December 2019. It will have eight stations located in Tagum, Carmen, Panabo, Mudiang, Davao, Toril, Sta. Cruz and Digos.

The project will be financed through an official development assistance from China.

Unlike other foreign-funded projects, Eje said procurement comes first before the loan agreement for China-funded projects.

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