JICA starts moving on PH’s first subway system

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Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade stresses a point at a press briefing at the sidelines of the ASEAN meetings in this file photo. He recently met with JICA officials on the feasibility study for Metro Manila's first subway system, to be built by Japan. BERNARD TESTA, INTERAKSYON

MANILA – Plans for the Metro Manila Subway Project, for which a loan agreement is expected to be signed in November at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the country, are moving forward, with Japanese officials presenting updates on the feasibility study.

The updates on the Metro Manila Subway Project were presented by partners from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) at the recent seventh Steering Committee Meeting presided by Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur P. Tugade.

The two sides discussed, among others, timelines, alignment, and organizational arrangements. Tugade reiterated his directive that he wants the project to be operational before the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term in 2022.

“I don’t want bola-bola [fooling around]. I want this project finished,” Tugade said.

Apart from fast-tracking the project, Tugade also proposed for the subway to extend all the way to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. “I need to have that connectivity. I have a big problem with NAIA because of the projected increase in volume of passengers,” he explained.

The subway alignment originally has 13 stations, starting from Mindanao Avenue and ending at FTI Taguig. This is seen to cut travel time from Quezon City to Taguig to just 31 minutes.

Tugade also proposed a training facility for railway operators, to which JICA responded positively. JICA also presented possible organizational arrangements to ensure that the subway will be constructed, operated, and maintained by a competent and dedicated team of certified operators and experts.

Apart from a world-class design, the proposed subway system will have water-stop panels, doors, and high-level entrance for flood prevention, earthquake detection, and a train stop system just like the subways in Tokyo.

At the end of the meeting, Tugade and JICA signed a minutes of discussion.

Present at the signing were Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, Bases Conversion and Development Authority President Vince Dizon, Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Danny Lim, representatives from the National Economic Development Authority, and officials of the Embassy of Japan.

President Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are expected to sign a loan agreement for the Mega Manila Subway Project during the latter’s visit to the Philippines in November.