The Department of Transportation (DoTr) has deferred the signing of the commercial agreement between the Philippine and Chinese governments for the Subic-Clark railway project as the agency is still waiting for the shortlist of interested contractors.
The agreement was originally calendared for signing to coincide with the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Manila this month.
“As soon as we receive it, everything will be ready, including bid documents, and the joint bids and awards committee with the BCDA (Bases Conversion and Development Authority) has been organized,” DoTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan said.
However, the department is still confident the Subic-Clark railway will be signed within the year or early next year with construction immediately following.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said the Philippines needs to wait for the list of contractors from the Chinese government as the project is funded by China.
“When a project is Chinese-funded, those who want to be involved must come from a list of nominees for accreditation from the Chinese government. We’re now at the stage where we are waiting for the nominated consultants for the feasibility study. When they finish the list of three nominees, we will do a bidding. The winner will do the feasibility study and come up with the data and details for the engagement,” Tugade said.
The transportation secretary remains confident that the government is on track with its target to complete the Subic-Clark railway project by 2021.
Meanwhile, the loan agreement for the Philippine National Railways (PNR) South Long Haul, which will extend the railway line to Bicol, is set to be signed during Xi’s visit.
The deal will finance the services of the project management consultant, which was procured by the government last October. “The consultant will be the ones in charge of formulating the terms of engagement or terms of reference for the bidding process. Our target is that the bidding will be done by the first quarter of next year,” Tugade said.
“Once the bidding is awarded by first quarter next year, we are targeting to start the construction by August,” he added.
The PNR South Long Haul is a 581-km., standard-gauge railway from Manila to Legazpi, Matnog and Batangas City. It involves the complete reconstruction of the legacy PNR railway into a single-track, at-grade railway.
The railway will connect cities, international seaports, and economic zones, allowing for faster transportation of passengers and freight.