THE first phase of the Mindanao Railway project is targeted to commence by the third quarter of 2018.

During the weekly press conference at Habi at Kape yesterday, December 6, Mindanao Development Authority (Minda) executive director assistant secretary Romeo Montenegro said the Mindanao Railway project is currently finishing its detailed engineering stages for the first phase.

The first phase will cover about 100 kilometer specifically that of Tagum-Davao-Digos.

It will have eight stations which will be in Tagum City, Carmen, Panabo City, Mudiang, Davao terminal, Toril, Sta. Cruz, and Digos.

After the detailed engineering, bidding and procurement are expected to follow which is targeted to take two to three months depending on the run of the process and the number of contractors competing.

Before the third quarter of 2018, Montenegro said it is expected the government will name the company contracted to implement the project.

“If later on it turns out, based on assessment, that we may be tapping external sources, some other phases of the Mindanao railways will necessarily have to be implemented via the Public-Private partnerships (PPP) or Official Development Assistance (ODA) loans," he said.

In an earlier interview with National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Davao regional director Maria Lourdes Lim, she said a P9 billion budget was already allocated for the first phase of the development.

The entire budget for the project approved by the Neda board amounted to P32.56 billion. The Mindanao Railway project will be cater to a mix of freight and passenger transport services.