PHL, Japan set to sign loan deal for North-South rail project in November

By Leslie D. Venzon

MANILA, Oct. 27 (PNA) — The Philippines is set to sign next month an Php89-billion loan agreement with Japanese government to partially finance the North-South commuter rail project (NSCRP) meant to ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila.

“The loan agreement for the project will be signed during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the Philippines for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meet next month,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said in a press briefing.

Balisacan, also the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director general, said the Php89 billion, which will be sourced from a concessional loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), represented Japan’s biggest official development assistance to the Philippines to date.

The Philippine and Japanese governments held Tuesday the first Ministerial-Level Steering Committee meeting for the “Cooperation Roadmap for Quality Infrastructure Development in the Transport Sector in Metropolitan Manila Area.”

Balisacan said following the loan agreement signing was the detailed engineering design phase for the Php105.31-billion NSCRP project,which will take at least 12 months.

He said bidding would precede project construction.

“The project will be completed in 2021; some couple of years,” he added.

For his part, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio Singson considered the rail or the mass transit as the more important component of the transport roadmap.

Singson said part of this roadmap component were the Mega Manila Subway project and the NSCRP that would connect all the existing Light Rail Transit (LRT) systems.

“So I’m really pushing for an early implementation on the decision on the rail components. As far as the DPWH is concerned, … what we really need at this time for Metro Manila to become more livable is mass transport,” he said in the same event.

The NSCRP project is designed to provide an efficient alternative mode of public transportation for commuters traversing between Bulacan and Manila. (PNA)