Japan seen as Mindanao Railways Project ‘fallback’ sponsor

Japan seen as Mindanao Railways Project ‘fallback’ sponsor
Photo credit to DOTr

SURIGAO del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel sees the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as the “logical fallback funding source” for the construction of the massive Mindanao Railways Project (MRP) after the Philippine government backed out from loan negotiations with China.

“Our sense is, Japan is our best recourse, considering that JICA is already helping our Department of Transportation in modeling our 30-year railways masterplan for Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and the Calabarzon,” Pimentel, a member of the House committee on flagship programs and projects, said in a statement on Thursday.

Pimentel’s remarks came ahead of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s visit to the Philippines from November 3 to 4.

“JICA is already providing us with the extremely low-interest official development assistance (ODA) loans for the Metro Manila Subway and other rail projects in Luzon. We might as well ask them to double down and grant us the concessional loan for the MRP,” Pimentel said.

“We absolutely need the MRP to accelerate the transfer of people and goods, and drive Mindanao’s economic and social development,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel said he expects the MRP to produce tens of thousands of construction-related jobs and livelihood opportunities that would benefit low-income families over several years.

Phase 1 of the MRP is projected to cost P83 billion. It will involve the construction of a 100-kilometer train line linking Tagum City, the provincial capital of Davao del Norte, with Digos City, the provincial capital of Davao del Sur, through Davao City.

The train line will cut travel time between Tagum and Digos from the usual three hours to just an hour.

Phase I will accommodate up to 122,000 commuters every day in its first year of operation.

Six commuter trains (with five cars each) will be deployed every hour and run through eight stations.

The line will also have 15 freight cars and three spare cars.

As originally designed, the entire MRP will eventually consist of a 1,544-kilometer railway stretching out to the cities of General Santos, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Cotabato, Zamboanga, Butuan, Surigao, and Malaybalay. PR


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