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Subway maintains 2022 run

Maria Romero



The government’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure offensive has been pushed back due to the effects of the global health crisis but not the P355.6-billion Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) which is still on track for a launch in early 2022, a Department of Transportation (DoTr) official said.

DoTr Assistant Secretary for Communications Goddes Hope Libiran over the weekend said the department is keen on maintaining the timetable for the project even as the health crisis has disrupted the delivery of spare parts and raw materials.

“Target partial operation of the project is still in the first quarter of 2022, it remains the same. The DoTr has ongoing discussions with JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) and our Japanese contractor on catch-up measures,” Libiran told the Daily Tribune.

Virus or not, project goes on

DoTr Secretary Arthur Tugade recently said the groundwork of the project that would transform the state of public transportation in Metro Manila is being fast-tracked.

“We will not stop because of coronavirus, we will not stop working,” Tugade said as he reiterated the government’s promise to deliver the project before President Rodrigo Duterte’s term ends in 2022.

Philippine National Railways General Manager Junn Magno, meanwhile, said the acquisition of right of way for the staging areas of the project’s tunnel boring machines (TBM) had started last month.

Based on the government’s initial plan, the first phase of the subway project will involve the acquisition of rolling stocks, electro-mechanical system and track works. Construction of the first three underground stations in Quirino Highway, Tandang Sora and North Avenue in Quezon City is also underway.

Longer train system

The DoTr recently added four new stations to the subway project. The project will now have a total of 17 stations.

The government has broken ground for the first three stations of the subway project in February last year after the DoTr signed a P51-billion deal for the package with the Shimizu Joint Venture, which consists of Shimizu Corp., Fujita Corp., Takenaka Civil Engineering Company Ltd. and EEI Corp.

The subway project is funded through official development assistance loans obtained from Japan.

The DoTr said the subway system is estimated to serve about 100,000 commuters daily once it starts partial operations in 2022.

The number of served passengers is expected to increase to 370,000 once the whole subway system is fully operational in 2025.

Last February, a total of 25 TBM was approved for use in the subway construction.

In a statement, the DoTr said the TBM, being manufactured by JIM Technology Inc. from Japan, will create the project’s tunnels in a fast, efficient and safe manner — not only digging but also laying out the concrete slabs surrounding the tunnels.

“These are also capable of excavating in different ground conditions — from rocks to sand,” the DoTr said.