DOTC-pro­posed P 100-B hike in NSRP cost nixed

Business Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - By Cai Or­di­nario

THE Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions (DOTC) has pro­posed to in­crease the cost of the North-South Rail­way Project (NSRP) by nearly P100 bil­lion to change the de­sign of the rail tracks.

How­ever, the in­ter­a­gency In­vest­ment Co­or­di­na­tion Com­mit­tee- Cabi­net Com­mit­tee ( ICC- Cabcom) has re­jected it, say­ing the change in track de­sign

to stan­dard gauge from nar­row gauge is “not nec­es­sary.”

A mem­ber of the ICC- Cabcom told the Busi­nessMir­ror that, while the shift to stan­dard gauge tracks will be “im­mi­nent” in the next decade, it will be ex­pen­sive at this time.

The P170.69-bil­lion NSRP ap­proved by the Na­tional Eco­nomic and Devel­op­ment Au­thor­ity ( Neda) Board in Fe­bru­ary 2015 pro­posed the use of nar­row gauge rail tracks.

Fol­low­ing the Neda Board ap­proval, the gov­ern­ment pur­chased ma­te­ri­als such as slip­pers and even re­fur­bished nar­row gauge trains do­nated to the Philip­pines.

The ICC- Cabcom said shift­ing to stan­dard gauge tracks at this time will only be “a waste of time and gov­ern­ment re­sources.”

Doc­u­ments ob­tained by the Busi­nessMir­ror showed that the DOTC pro­posed to in­crease the cost of the NSRP by P96.802 bil­lion to P267.501 bil­lion.

Aside from chang­ing the rail-track de­sign, the DOTC said the ad­di­tional amount will also be used for in­creas­ing the re­quired right- of-way from 15 me­ters to 30 me­ters and re­set­tle­ment.

Un­der the NSRP ap­proved by the Neda Board last year, a to­tal of 38,468 house­holds will be af­fected by the long- haul stretch of the project. The re­vised pro­posal of the DOTC will in­crease the num­ber of af­fected house­holds to 100,000.

The largest num­ber of house­holds af­fected at 65,585 is found along the Manila-Legazpi alignment.

The hous­ing costs per af­fected fam­ily will also go up to P480,000, based on post- Su­per­ty­phoon Yolanda es­ti­mates of the Na­tional Hous­ing Au­thor­ity (NHA), from only P290,000 in the orig­i­nal pro­posal.

The DOTC also wanted to “un­bun­dle” the NSRP South Line into two sep­a­rate rail­ways— the com­muter line and the south line for long­haul travel. Both will be pack­aged as pub­licpri­vate part­ner­ship (PPP) projects.

The com­muter line will be 73 kilo­me­ters long and will run from Tu­tuban, Manila, to Los Baños, La­guna.

Mean­while, the south line of the NSRP will be 415-km long and will also be­gin in Tu­tuban, Manila, but will stretch all the way to Legazpi, Al­bay.

The Busi­nessMir­ror ear­lier re­ported that in­fras­truc­ture spend­ing un­der the pro­posed Three-year Rolling In­fras­truc­ture Plan ( Trip) could reach as much as P1.07 tril­lion by 2019.

The de­tails of the Trip were re­cently dis­cussed and rec­om­mended for ap­proval by the in­ter- agency In­fras­truc­ture Com­mit­tee Tech­ni­cal Board.

ED DAVAD

FILIPINOS, hop­ing for an end to their daily com­mut­ing woes, would have to suf­fer even more, as the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions plans to in­crease the cost of the pro­posed North-South Rail­way Project by nearly P100 bil­lion.

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