By Ben O. de Vera, August 16 2018; Philippine Daily Inquirer


Image Credit to Department of Budget and Management

To fast-track the planned rehabilitation of the dilapidated Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3, economic managers will meet today to discuss and possibly green-light the up to 38.1-billion yen (about P18.3 billion) loan offered by Japan for the project.

National Economic and Development Authority Undersecretary Rolando G. Tungpalan told the Inquirer yesterday the MRT 3 rehabilitation was on the agenda of the special Neda Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee (ICC-CabCom) meeting, but declined to disclose details.

Japan International Cooperation Agency senior representative Tetsuya Yamada confirmed that the planned official development assistance (ODA) for MRT 3’s rehabilitation and maintenance would be up for approval at the ICC-CabCom meeting.

In an e-mail, Yamada said Japan Foreign Affairs Minister Taro Kono had notified in June Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano of the planned provision of the ODA loan.

“However, the Philippine government has to approve this at the Neda Board in order to finalize the diplomatic agreement (exchange of notes) and loan agreement with Jica,” Yamada explained.

Once approved by the Neda ICC-CabCom, the ODA agreement will be elevated to the Neda Board, chaired by the President.

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

The loan will be slapped an interest rate of 0.1 a year, payable in 28 years after a 12-year grace period.

Mofa noted that Japanese firms did the maintenance and management work at MRT 3 from 2000 to 2012. From 2012 onward, it said, “companies from other countries have been implementing the maintenance and management, but due to budget shortfalls and other factors, appropriate maintenance and management work have not been implemented. Currently the line and the rolling stock are in poor condition and there are frequent disruptions to train services.”

“In response to a request from the government of the Philippines, Japan will provide the funds necessary to rehabilitate the MRT Line 3 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 Line, about twice as many trains as currently running will run appropriately by 2022,” Mofa said.

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

It broke down more than 500 times last year.