Construction on Manila Subway to Start in 2018. Finally.

Automologist Harold has been writing for years about the horrendous traffic problem in Manila and a long-term solution that he has always advocated is a proper mass transit system. He is excited that finally a US$7 billion Mega Manila Subway is now to be constructed. 

What so many of the Philippines’ past presidents did not have the guts nor means to implement, the present controversial, strong-handed “dirty Harry” President Rodrigo Duterte did. The long awaited Manila subway, first conceived in 1973, is now approved for construction. Duterte had to wrestle the usually timid National Economic Development Authority to have it approve and had to court Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to give a USD7 billion ultra soft loan (0.1% interest per year)  payable in 40 years with a 12-year grace period. This loan agreement was reportedly signed during the recently concluded ASEAN Summit in Manila.

When finished, it would be the first underground train system in the Philippines, with a predicted daily ridership of 370,000 in the first year and over 1,000,000 a day when integrated with the present MRT and LRT lines. It would also become the fifth underground rail system in Southeast Asia, after the currently operating Bangkok Metro and Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit, and the under construction Jakarta Mass Rapid Transit completing in 2017/2018, and Ho Chi Minh City Metro operating from 2020. (Source: Wikipedia)

The first phase of the project will have thirteen stations, from Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City to Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Paranaque.  Some of the stations—such as that in North Avenue, Quezon Avenue, Anonas, and Katipunan—will intersect with the existing rapid transit lines of the Manila Light Rail Transit System. Construction of this 57.7 kilometer subway is expected to start mid-2018 and initially targeted to be completed in 2025, although Transportation Secretary Tugade is working with the Japanese contractors to expedite the project, so that it becomes operational when President Duterte ends his term in 2022.

It seems a perfect coincidence that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which funded a study that recommended the fine prints of this PHP370 Billion (US$7 Billion) subway, was the same JICA which estimated, in another study, that the total fuel, labor and business losses in Metro Manila due to traffic jams is about PHP370 Billion a year.

It is madly unthinkable how previous administrations and presidents have sat on such a strategic project! They have allowed the Philippines to incur productivity loses of PHP370 Billion a year for the last 44 years (smaller in earlier years) instead of “extra-judicially” looking for PHP370 billion to construct the solution to this 44-year-old mess!

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