The Philippines is set to sign one month from now a $2B Dollar loan agreement with Japan to partially finance the North-South Commuter Rail Project (NSCRP) intended to lessen the traffic in Metro Manila.

“The loan agreement for the project will be signed during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the Philippines for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meet next month,” according to Arsenio Balisacan, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary.

Balisacan, also the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director general, said the Php89 billion, which will be sourced from a concessional loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), represented Japan’s biggest official development assistance to the Philippines to date.

The Philippine and Japanese governments held Tuesday the first Ministerial-Level Steering Committee meeting for the “Cooperation Roadmap for Quality Infrastructure Development in the Transport Sector in Metropolitan Manila Area.”

Balisacan said following the loan agreement signing was the detailed engineering design phase for the Php105.31-billion NSCRP project, which will take at least 12 months.

He said bidding would precede project construction.

“The project will be completed in 2021; some couple of years,” he added.

For his part, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio Singson considered the rail or the mass transit as a more important component of the transport roadmap.

Singson said part of this roadmap component were the Mega Manila Subway project and the NSCRP that would connect all the existing Light Rail Transit (LRT) systems.

“So I’m really pushing for an early implementation on the decision on the rail components. As far as the DPWH is concerned, … what we really need at this time for Metro Manila to become more livable is mass transport,” he said in the same event.

The NSCRP project is designed to provide an efficient alternative mode of public transportation for commuters traversing between Bulacan and Manila. -Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, MLD, Gov.PH

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