PH, ADB sign loan agreement for P66-B Malolos-Clark Railway

PH, ADB sign loan agreement for P66-B Malolos-Clark Railway
President Duterte and ADB Vice President Ahmed M. Saeed (right) shake hands at the signing ceremony for the loan package to bankroll the Malolos-Clark Railway Project on Thursday, July 11, at Malacanang. Also in photo is Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, a signatory in the agreement. (Photo courtesy of ADB)

PH, ADB sign loan agreement
for P66-B Malolos-Clark Railway

By THEPHILBIZNEWS STAFF

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is extending a $1.3-billion (roughly P66.6-billion) loan to the Philippine government to start the construction of the Malolos–Clark Railway Project, part of President Duterte’s ambitious North-South Commuter Railway project aiming to link Pampanga and Laguna.

Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and ADB Vice President Ahmed M. Saeed signed the loan package for the milestone project Thursday, July 11, in Malacañang.

Saeed said this initial amount represents the first tranche of financing for one of the Duterte administration’s biggest flagship projects – a railway facility between New Clark City in Pampanga and Calamba City in Laguna costing $2.75 billion (P140.9 billion). The aim is to complete the project by 2025.

“The Malolos–Clark Railway Project is ADB’s single largest infrastructure project financing ever at $2.75 billion. We are pleased to be supporting this important flagship project in our host country,” Saeed said.

An official statement from the ADB said the project will use cutting-edge technology to build an elevated railway line, with a maximum train speed of 160 kilometers per hour, to help ease chronic road congestion in and around Metro Manila, reduce air pollution, cut the costs of transport and logistics, and encourage economic growth and a population shift outside the capital.

“Our work in the Philippines has always held a special place in the history of ADB. Now, under President Duterte’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ infrastructure program, ADB is considerably scaling up its own support to the government,” Saeed said.

Implementation of the Malolos–Clark project is a result of close collaboration between ADB, JICA, and the Department of Transportation (DOTr), headed by Secrfetary Arthur Tugade. Civil works contracts under the project are already being bidded out, with the first contract awards expected in the fourth quarter of this year.

The ADB said the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is cofinancing the project with an additional financing of up to $2 billion (P102.5 billion) for the rolling stock and the railway systems.

ADB assistance to the Philippines is expected to hit a record $2.5 billion for 2019, more than double its average annual financing of $1 billion in the last three years.

Among the other ADB projects in the pipeline this year include the EDSA Greenways Project, which will construct elevated walkways along busy intersections in Metro Manila, and additional financing for the metropolis’ main water supply system under the Angat Water Transmission Improvement Project. Also under preparation is additional financing for the Infrastructure Preparation and Innovation Facility, which will help prepare feasibility studies and detailed engineering designs of other flagship projects of the government.

Meanwhile, ADB’s future proposed projects include financing for the Blumentritt–Calamba section of the North–South Commuter Railway project in 2020, as well as the railway extension to New Clark City in 2022, with cofinancing from JICA.

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