By FLORO L. MERCENE
After most offices and malls have closed at night, Makati’s population drops to more than 500,000 but rebounds to 5 million at daytime.
Welcome to the country’s premier financial district and destination of some 4.5 million workers and visitors.
Home of the biggest conglomerates, Makati suffers from acute congestion. Navigating the business district is a challenge, and a short commute could take from 30 minutes to an hour.
Thus higher pollution levels, lower productivity, and lost business opportunities. Makati’s traffic rules and cops are some of the country’s strictest with a no-nonsense approach to keep order and discipline.
The most ambitious innovative solution is a US$3.7-billion subway system submitted by a consortium of international construction, engineering, and railway companies. Led by locally listed IRC Properties, Inc., the subway project is designed to traverse the city in minutes.
The proposed rail system will have 10 stations from Comembo-Guadalupe area, to JP Rizal, the Circuit Makati, the Fire Station near Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue, all the way down to Ayala Avenue to EDSA.
Approved by the city council’s PPP selection committee and currently undergoing a Swiss Challenge, the proposal requires proponents to provide technical expertise and answer all project costs.
Makati as joint venture partner will not give out any cash but land as equity and permits and licenses for the undertaking.
Once the Swiss Challenge is hurdled, proponents said they are ready to start construction late this year and trains could start operation by 2025.
The mass transport project could help fulfill Mayor Abby Binay’s dream of a connected, digital city. The subway is the country”s single biggest Public-Private Partnership by a local government unit in the Philippines.
This is Makati’s signal to all LGUs they can find creative solutions to their congestion woes and not wait for the national government to provide needed infrastructure. Makati’s unique situations require urgent intervention and local solutions.
The IRC-led consortium is preparing for the project and if international investors are eyeing to join, Filipino conglomerates can join too.
If all goes well, the ultimate winners are local residents and the millions who call Makati their second home.