Not another North Rail: China promises to finish PNR South Rail by 2022
China has promised to finish the Philippine National Railway (PNR)’s south railway rehabilitation and restoration project before President Rodrigo Duterte’s term ends in 2022, Malacanang said on Monday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the assurance was made by Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua during their meeting two weeks ago.
“I’ve talked to the ambassador of China and he told me that the term (of President Rodrigo Duterte) will not be finished without the revival of the south railway,” Roque said in a press conference in Camarines Sur.
Roque said the construction of the PNR’s South Line Manila to Legazpi City in Bicol has been awarded to China.
“So be patient the south railway will be finished and even the President had said he will not leave without fulfilling this promise,” Roque said.
The revival of the PNR’s south railway stretching from Paco, Manila to Matnog, Sorsogon will be funded by a loan from China reportedly worth P175 billion payable in 20 years at two percent interest per annum.
The South Line is one of the flagship projects under the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.
The 683-kilometer South Line will have nine train stations in Paco, FTI, Los Banos, Lucena City, Gumaca, Pili/Naga, Legazpi/Camalig, Sorsogon City and Matnog.
The Philippines has a bad experience with China and railway projects. Eight years ago, the Philippines was forced to return $593 million to China from a loan meant to bankroll the Northrail project which was abandoned due to anomalies in the procurement process.
The 80-kilometer Northrail project which was initiated under the Arroyo administration would have linked Metro Manila with the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark, Pampanga. It was suspended in March 2010 pending review of the contract with China National Machinery Industry Corp. (Sinomach). (PNA)