Tugade wants changes on design of Mindanao Railway project to be funded by China
China will finance the Mindanao Rail Project Phase 1, Transportation Secretary Athur Tugade said on Wednesday.
But the loan agreement could not be signed yet as he wants changes in the project design.
"There's really a plan for China's funding (for the Mindanao Railway project)," Tugade said in a press briefing in Malacanang.
The government initially planned to fund the P36-billion project through the General Appropriations Act.
However, since China expressed intent to finance the future phases of Mindanao Railway, there was a concern that if Phase 1 is not implemented by China, it would be more difficult to get China's support for the much longer future phases of the Mindanao Railway Project, another Department of Transportation official earlier said.
Tugade said there would be a delay in the implementation of the project, which construction was initially set to start this year.
"We have delayed the actual bidding. I'm introducing changes (on the design)," he said.
He said he wants the railway project in Mindanao to be the same as the one in Central Luzon.
"I'm instructing that the Mindanao Railways or Express, I want it double track. Second, the Mindanao Express should be electrified, not diesel, Third, the Mindanao Express must not be narrow (but) standard. Those three categories or qualifications are double track, not single; electrified, not diesel; standard and not narrow," he said.
Tugade acknowledged there will be an additional cost for changing the design of the Mindanao Railway project.
"Having done this, there will be additional cost in Mindanao but that is a good addition, there will be a little bit delay in the bidding, but that is a good delay because the quality of the railroad track will be the same and equal with Central Luzon," Tugade said.
According to an official of the National Economic and Development Authority, their office jas yet to receive the proposal from DOTr regarding the changes in the design of the project.
NEDA acts as the secretariat of the interagency Investment Coordination Committee, which is handling all huge infrastructure projects before they are approved by the NEDA Board chaired by the President.
The Mindanao Railway Project Phase 1 is expected to reduce the travel time from Davao del Norte to Davao del Sur from 3.5 hours to 1.3 hours. It will connect Tagum, Carmen, Panabo, Mudiang, Davao Terminal, Toril, Sta. Cruz, and Digos. Celerina Monte/DMS