If there’s one common wish Davao City’s business community share approaching this year’s Mindanao Business Conference (MinBizCon), it is the completion of the Mindanao Railway that will connect Davao to other regions in Mindanao.
MinBizCon is an annual business sector event in Southern Philippines serving as a venue for discussing the economic concerns and opportunities. It is also the venue for the business sector in the island to formulate policy actions that help eventually help develop the island in terms of business, infrastructure, agriculture and other business concerns.
Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc (DCCCII) President Arturo Milan, who attended MInBizCon 2019 in Iligan City, told Edge Davao that he is expecting to get clarification on the status of Mindanao Railway and other flagship infra projects in Mindanao.
Last May, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade broke the news that construction of the Mindanao Railway System (MRS) has been moved to the fourth quarter this year as the government need to review the alignment in Davao City.
Two months ago, DoTr announced that the costs were adjusted upward for the Mindanao Railway Project Phase 1 due to the need to traverse rolling terrain, while the rail line was downgraded to a single track and non-electric system to speed up implementation.
“My wishlist for the conference is the fast-tracking especially all the investments on our infrastructure. I hope that we will be able to fast-track and I think everything before 2021 everything would be finished also before the end of the administration of our President because you know how it is in the Philippine politics, the government changes, the priority changes, so if we only have the plans now and nothing is moving, well the apprehension is the plans might not meet its reality,” said Joji Ilagan Bian, a business leader and a former chair of the Mindanao Business Council (MBC).
Bian said there is a need to prioritize other connectivity connecting Mindanao with each other such as the railway and road networks.
“The road network is existing but the travel time is difficult,” she said.
Bian is optimistic that the projects for Mindanao will be completed by 2021 as promised by President Rodrigo Duterte,
According to Bian, the trend is “to make sure that everything works out according to plan and I think if everyone would just support the government we should not have a probelm because the budget is there already.”
“The theme of MinBisCOn right now is focus on Mindanao development and they are bringing a number of foreign investors also,” Bian said while expressing optimism that investments in terms of infrastructure will grow specifically for Iligan and Cagayan de Oro cities. “Because it has been realized the movement of people and trade within our intra-Mindanao region is also very difficult and it hampers investment.”
Now on its 28th year, MinBizCon was hosted by Iligan City from September 12 -14, 2019.