Philippine DOF Says China Financing Will Help Build Giant Railways And Bridges

Manila train commuters
The Wider Image: Chaos, gridlock a daily ordeal for Manila's commuters, November 29, 2018. (Photo: REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)

The Philippines' Department of Finance said on Wednesday that Chinese loans will fund two railway projects in the Mindanao and Central Luzon areas. The agreement was made during Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III's courtesy visit to China.

According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Dominguez said both parties were "working towards beginning the implementation of two rail projects - the Subic-Clark Railway Project in Luzon and the Mindanao Railway Project."

Details from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) revealed that the Subic-Clark Railway will kickoff construction this year. The project is expected to be completed sometime July 2022. The plan states that the railway will allow for an exclusive right-of-way to the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx).

Other facilities included in the Subic-Clark Railway Project are a 6.94km spur line that connects Subic Pay Port New Container Terminal to the mainline and a 71.13km rail. Finally, the mainline will be made of a 64.19km rail between the Subic Bay Freeport Zone and the Clark Freeport Zone.

As for the Mindanao Railway Project, engineers are expected to establish the first phase of the railway with a P35.26 billion funding. The non-electrified, 102km single-track rail will connect Davao, Digos, and Tagum.

The above projects are all part of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's "Build, Build, Build" program that aims to boost the economy through massive infrastructures. The program also includes bridge and facility construction projects.

Philippine loans from China may also finance two bridge plans, the Philippine Star reported. During the meeting between Dominguez and Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Inter-island Bridge and the Davao-Samal Bridge projects were discussed.

The first bridge is only part of the Philippines' proposed loan assistance plan from Beijing. Another set of infrastructure projects includes the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Inter-island bridge.

Upon completion of the massive bridge projects, it is expected that travel time between Samal Island and Davao City will be reduced to only around two to five minutes. Travel time to and from the said locations usually takes up to an hour and 40 minutes.

Dominguez noted that development assistance relations with China have improved over the past two years. He said meetings with the Ministry of Commerce of China (MOFCOM) "made a lot of progress." As part of the agreement, Beijing already agreed to extend a $13.4 million grant to improve the feasibility study process of the two bridges.

Other projects proposed for Chinese financing were also initiated by Finance Undersecretary Mark Dennis Joven. The Filipino official met with Chinese officials working with Export-Import Bank of China (China-EXIM) in a bid to lay out the foundation of future infrastructure projects in the Philippines.

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