PH, Japan ink ₱18.76-B loan for MRT rehab

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 8) —  The Philippines and Japan signed Thursday an ₱18.76 billion loan agreement, which would largely finance the rehabilitation of the MRT-3.

The bulk of the ₱21.96 billion cost of the rehabilitation of the railway system plying major thoroughfare EDSA would be sourced from the loan from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said during the signing of the loan agreement.

Dominguez said the loan would accrue interest at 0.10 percent per year for non-consulting services and 0.01 percent per year for consulting services. He added that it would mature in 40 years and has a 12-year grace period.

"This is, by every measure, a very soft loan that will enable us to address a very pressing problem," Dominguez said.

For JICA's part, its Senior Vice President Yasushi Tanaka said they are "pleased that we can contribute to the MRT-3 to become again a safe and comfortable train by using advanced Japanese rehabilitation technologies."


'Comprehensive' rehabilitation

Dominguez said the rehabilitation of the MRT-3 would "address the problem in a most comprehensive fashion."

Department of Transportation (DOTr) undersecretary for railways Timothy John Batan said Japan's Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which designed and built the past system of the MRT-3, would be contracted for the rehabilitation of the train line.

Rehabilitation works would cover the replacement of worn out tracks, the upgrading of signalling systems and the overhaul of light rail vehicles, Dominguez said.

The DOTr said in a statement that the project will last 43 months, with rehabilitation works finished in the first 26 months and the general overhaul of the 72 light rail vehicles done in the 43rd month.

Dominguez said that once completed, trains on the MRT-3 would increase from 15 to 20 during peak hours and would operate faster at 60 kilometers per hour, slashing travel time by half.

"I would like to assure our hurried commuters that we will rebuild and reinvent this vital rail service as quickly as possible," Dominguez said.

However, there may be fewer trains running on the MRT-3 while repairs are ongoing.

Rehabilitating the MRT, which has suffered from almost daily breakdowns in the past years, is seen as one of the solutions to traffic congestion in Metro Manila, which JICA has estimated to cost around ?3.5 billion a day.

READ: Breakdowns, corruption and separations: The MRT in 2017