China-funded Pasig River bridges hit snags; big railway projects to start
A couple of planned China-funded bridges crossing Pasig River have hit a snag and now facing delay while two massive railway projects—one linking Clark and Subic freeports and the other, Manila and the Bicol Region—will start construction this year.
The two Pasig River bridges that had already secured Chinese grants and broken ground last year—the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge and Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge—were facing some issues.
In the case of the P4.61-billion Binondo-Intramuros Bridge, only 1.9 percent of the project was accomplished as of Nov. 5 last year even as the target was 2.9 percent, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said.
Implementation of this project was stopped after the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) learned from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) that the San Fernando Bridge is “an important cultural property.”
Under the plan, the San Fernando Bridge would be demolished and replaced.
The DPWH continues to coordinate with the NCCA to facilitate resolution of the issue, the Neda said.
As for the P1.37-billion Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge, the closure and dismantling of the existing two-lane structure was moved to this month instead of the original plan of September last year, in consideration of the Christmas holidays.
Both the Binondo-Intramuros and Estrella-Pantaleon bridges were targeted to be opened next year.
A report of the Neda showed that of the 35 big-ticket “Build, Build, Build” projects approved by the Neda Board as of Nov. 30 last year, 12 would be covered by Chinese loans and grants.
A total of 75 flagship projects were included in the ambitious Build, Build, Build, aimed at ushering in a “golden age of infrastructure” by the time President Duterte ends his term in 2022.
The biggest China-funded project will be the P175.32-billion Philippine National Railways (PNR) South Long-Haul connecting Metro Manila to Bicol.
“The contract was awarded to the China Railway Design Group on Nov. 5, 2018. The project management consultancy (PMC) contract was signed on Nov. 17, 2018. The review of loan agreements are ongoing,” Neda said of the 639-kilometer rail project extending to Matnog, Sorsogon.
Two loans from China were being eyed to cover the PMC deal and the design-build contract, the Neda said.
Groundbreaking for the PNR South Long-Haul Project would be in August, for it to be finished by 2022.
Also to be financed by China is the P50.03-billion Subic-Clark Railway, which involves the construction of a total of 71.13-km rail, including a 64.19-km mainline between Clark Freeport Zone and Subic Bay Freeport Zone and a 6.94-km spur line connecting the mainline to the Subic Bay Port New Container Terminal.
“The project is in its preprocurement stage; the Department of Transportation and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority are currently preparing the contract and bidding documents,” Neda said.