By Chino S. Leyco
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said that residents from northern Luzon can expect the “much-delayed” railway system connecting Malolos, Bulacan and Clark International Airport in Pampanga will now push through.
Following the signing of a $1.3 billion from the Asian development Bank (ABD), Dominguez said that 53.1 kilometer passenger railway, the single largest infrastructure investment in history, is expected to be completed by 2025.
Once finished, the Malolos-Clark railway project (MCRP) will benefit around 342,000 passengers per day and is expected to be completed after six years.
Last week, ADB and the Philippine government sealed a loan agreement representing the first tranche of the bank’s $2.75 billion financing contribution for the MCRP.
“This project will more than pay for itself and bring convenience to hundreds of thousands of commuters a day in what will be an extremely busy Manila-Clark corridor in the coming years,” Dominguez said.
The estimated total project cost for the entire MCRP is $6.139 billion, which will be co-financed by the ADB and the Government of Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The ADB will fund $2.75 billion or 44.8 percent of the total project cost, while JICA will finance $2.011 billion or 32.75 percent. The Philippine government’s counterpart funding of 22.45 percent amounts to $1.378 billion.
“This loan demonstrates the close coordination between multilateral agencies and our bilateral development partners,” said Dominguez.
“I am happy our development partners have adapted quite well to the ‘Fast and Sure’ approach in getting the major infrastructure projects going,” Dominguez added. “The ADB and the Japanese Government are indeed our friends and partners in their untiring support for the country’s growth and development.”
Dominguez noted that “this much-delayed project is finally pushing through” as part of the Duterte administration’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ infrastructure modernization program.
The project was first conceptualized in the late 1990s, with preparatory construction starting in 2006 but scrapped in 2011.
ADB’s $2.75 billion loan is the largest sum extended by the Bank to the Philippines, which hosts its headquarters, or to any other country, since its establishment in 1966.
On the part of the ADB, the financing for the MCRP will be in three tranches, with each considered as stand-alone loans. The second tranche is a $1.0 billion loan, while the final one is for $450 million.