BACKBURNER

De-prioritize Mindanao Railway project: Mayor Sara

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio attends the 122nd Philippine Independence Day commemoration in Davao City last week. The mayor has recommended for the de-prioritization of the Mindanao Railway Project Tagum-Davao-Digos (MRP TDD) segment.  Edge Davao

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio has recommended to the national government the de-prioritization of the Mindanao Railway Project Tagum-Davao-Digos (MRP TDD) segment.

A statement released by the regional office of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA 11) reported that Mayor Sara presented the city’s position paper during the online video conference for the second quarter CY 2020 regular meeting of the Infrastructure Development Committee 11(IDC 11) last June 9 and cited reasons for putting the project in the backburner such as unresolved alignment issues between the MRP-TDD and other priority projects in Davao City including the Davao City Bypass Construction Project (DCBCP), risk of the project’s non-completion as the signing of loan agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GOP) and the Government of China, and insufficient ridership which may lead to financial losses.

The committee has endorsed the city’s recommendation to the RDC 11 for its consideration and further deliberation.

In his letter sent to Mayor Sara, a copy of which was shared to Edge Davao, Assistant Secretary for project implementation-Mindanao Cluster of the Department of Transportation (DoTr) Eymard Eje explained that the alignment issue between the MRP and the Davao Bypass Construction project can be resolved without scrapping either of the projects.

“De-prioritization does not mean cancellation. The project will continue. I believe the Office of Mayor Sara Duterte already received our letter,” Eje told Edge Davao.

Eje said technically, a road design has a higher flexibility to adjust that a railway design and any slight changes in the horizontal and vertical design of the railway would greatly affect the speed and travel time. He added that apparently, this issue has been raised and will be resolved on a Secretary level anytime soon.

Eje also explained that the loan agreement with China will be signed anytime soon and this has been guaranteed by the Chinese counterparts. DoTr is currently waiting for the shortlist of bidders for them to commence the construction phase immediately.

DoTr promised to continue in providing the mayor with an accurate, fair, and honest account of the status and impact of MRP to the people.

Eje also stated in his letter the impact of MRP such as in the acquisition of ROW, DoTr will be providing homes to thousands of informal settlers that have been living for almost 50 years now which will be affected with the alignment; the construction of the project will create thousands of jobs and those who lost jobs because of the COVID-19, the new coronavirus 2019, pandemic will also benefit from the project; the project will boost the economy of Davao and the materials, supplies and other equipment to be used for the project will be sourced locally.

Electrified and dual track

Eje also emphasized in his letter to the mayor that DoTr has always pushed for an electrified and dual track railway system, unfortunately, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board approved the single track-diesel type railway system for this segment.

Nonetheless, DoTr will be acquiring a 40-meter wide of the right-of-way (ROW) for its entire line. Eje said this will enable the department to operate a dual track railway system in the future.

He added that the maximum design speed of electric multiple unit (EMU), which is 350 kph, is faster that the dual multiple unit (DMU), which is 200 kph, yet the DMU train still meets the design speed of the MRP TDD at 160 kph and its assumed average operational speed of 100 kph and with reduced travel and waiting time, the public will patronize the Mindanao railway based on the feasibility study (FS) conducted.

Meanwhile, among the items discussed during the IDC 11 online meeting was the Midterm Update of Chapters 12 and 19 of the Davao Region Development Plan, 2017-2022 Results Matrices with special consideration of the possible adverse effects of the pandemic to the Region’s development targets.

The Committee also reviewed the Region’s infrastructure sector performance for the 1st Quarter CY 2020 through the Quarterly Progress Report on the Achievement of Chapters 12 and 19 DRDP Outcomes.
Also the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-Unified Project Management Office presented the Proposed Steel Flyover Construction for Traffic Decongestion in Urban Areas, particularly in Quimpo Boulevard.

The Committee also recommended that the Traffic Analysis consider on-going and pipelined projects such as the Davao City Coastal Bypass Road and the Davao City Bypass Road. The Committee recommended RDC XI endorsement of the Project’s approval to the NEDA Board – Investment Coordinating Committee (NB-ICC).

The Committee also endorsed to RDC 11 the establishment of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Air Station/Hangar at the Old Airport, Davao City to accommodate the proposed deployment of PNP helicopters in the Mindanao Area to combat insurgency, terrorism, criminality, and the pandemic.