By APD writer Melo M. Acuña
MANILA, July 11 (APD) – Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III of the Philippines and Asian Development Bank (ADB) Vice President Ahmed M. Saeed signed today a US$1.3 billion loan, the first tranche of a total US$2.75 billion facility for the Malolos-Clark Railway Project in a ceremony witnessed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at the Malacanang Palace.
“Our work in the Philippines has always held a special place in the history of the ADB. Now, under President Duterte’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ infrastructure program, ADB is considerably scaling up its own support to the government,” Mr. Saeed said. He added the Malolos-Clark Railway Project is ADB’s single largest infrastructure project financing ever at US$2.75 billion.
“We are pleased to be supporting this important flagship project in our host country,” he further said.
The ADB said the Malolos-Clark railways are part of the Philippine government’s North-South Commuter Railway project, which will link New Clark City to Calamba by 2025. The project will use cutting-edge technology to build an elevated railway line, with a maximum train speed of 160 kilometers per hour, to help ease chronic road congestion in and around Metro Manila, reduce air pollution, cut the costs of transport and logistics, and encourage growth as well as population shift outside the capital.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is co-financing the project with additional financing of up to US$2 billion for the rolling stock and the railway systems. The project is a result of the close collaboration between ADB, JICA and the Department of Transportation. During the preparation, the ADB said, a joint technical team from the department and the two institutions conducted regular “Build, Build, Build” meetings, with reporting to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade. ADB’s safeguard and resettlement policies were adopted and are being implemented for the project.
Civil works contracts under the project are being subjected to bidding, with the first contract awards expected in the fourth quarter of the year.
The Philippines will receive from ADB a record high of US$2.5 billion for the year which is more than double its average annual financing of US$1 billion in the last three years. Future proposed projects for ADB include financing for the Blumentritt-Calamba section of the North-South Commuter Railway project in 2020 and the railway extension to New Clark City in 2022, still with co-financing from JICA.
(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)