Transportation Assistant Secretary Eymard Eje said the government is eyeing partial operability of the diesel-operated 102-kilometer Tagum City-Davao City-Digos City (TDD) segment of the Mindanao Railway Project by March 2022.
Eje said the Department of Transportation (DOTr) hopes to operationalize the section between adjacent cities of Panabo and Carmen in Davao del Norte before the end of term of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, who will step down on June 30 next year.
The “flat terrain” along the Panabo-Carmen line is a good launching pad for the highly-anticipated railway project, he said.
The two cities are among eight identified areas in Davao Region where the government planned to build the stations.
The six others will be constructed in Tagum City, Davao del Norte; Mudian, Davao Terminal, and Toril in Davao City; and Santa Cruz Municipality and Digos City in Davao del Sur.
He said the DOTr, in coordination with the local governments units, is currently working on the right-of-way acquisition (ROW) for the properties along the railway path.
He said the P81.7 billion project will be funded through the official development assistance (ODA) of the Chinese government.
He said they have yet to process the ODA with China, which requires the Philippine government to complete the procurement process for the project management consultant and the design and build contractor before it could grant the loan.
He said procurement for the project management consultant is ongoing while the agency awaits the list of shortlisted design and build contractors who will participate in the bidding.
Once completed, Eje said that’s the only time that the government will negotiate for the loan but added that this will likely be approved within the year.
He added that the government will still have to accomplish the detailed engineering design once the loan is approved, paving the way for the actual construction of the railway project.
According to the agency, the TDD segment will reduce travel time from 3.5 hours to 1.3 hours between Tagum and Digos Cities and will provide “passengers safe, fast, and reliable transport options on the TDD commuter line.”
It is expected to serve approximately 134,000 riders a day by 2022, up to 237,000 by 2032, and 375,000 by 2042.
The TDD segment is the first phase of the 1,550-kilometer MRP aims to connect key cities of Davao, Butuan, Surigao, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Cotabato, Zamboanga and General Santos upon its completion.