By Ben O. de Vera, September 14 2018; Philippine Daily Inquirer


Image Credit to BWorldOnline.com

Commuters using the deteriorating Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT 3) along Edsa should soon expect relief, with the loan to be extended by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) for its rehabilitation to be signed within the year.

On the sidelines of the Arangkada Philippines forum on Wednesday, Jica Philippines chief representative Yoshio Wada told reporters the Philippine and Japanese sides were expected to sign the loan agreement “in a couple of months.”

Last month, the National Economic and Development Authority’s Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee (Neda ICC-CabCom) approved the P22.1-billion MRT 3 rehabilitation project, which is expected to start during the third quarter of this year for completion in the first quarter of 2021.

The rehabilitation of MRT 3, which will be implemented by the Department of Transportation, will raise the number of train sets in operation per hour to 18 from 15 at present, while also increasing the maximum speed to 60 kilometers per hour and decreasing the headway to 200 seconds.

The Neda Board, chaired by the President, still has to finalize the diplomatic agreement or exchange of notes as well as the loan agreement with Jica.

According to the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (Mofa), the planned official development assistance (ODA) was aimed at upgrading the MRT 3 to make it “quality infrastructure again.”

The loan will have an interest rate of 0.1 per annum, with a 28-year repayment period after a 12-year grace period.

Mofa noted while Japanese firms did the maintenance and management work when the MRT 3 was opened in 2000 up until 2012, other companies from other countries came in thereafter and “due to budget shortfalls and other factors, appropriate maintenance and management work has not been implemented and currently the line and the rolling stock are in poor condition and there are frequent disruptions to train services.”

As such, “in response to a request from the government of the Philippines, Japan will provide the funds necessary to rehabilitate the MRT Line 3 appropriately and utilize the technology of Japan to upgrade the line to quality infrastructure, thereby improving the safety and comfort of the railway,” Mofa said.

“It is expected that due to the rehabilitation of the MRT 3, approximately twice as many trains currently will run appropriately by 2022 (two years after the completion of the project), greatly improving their transport volume, alleviating the serious traffic congestion in Metro Manila, and contributing to the alleviation of air pollution and climate change,” Mofa added.

The 17-kilometer MRT 3 serves about half a million passengers a day.