Don’t be taken for a ride, Poe cautions gov’t on subway construction
While she welcomed with optimism the planned construction of the first subway system in the country, Senator Grace Poe cautioned the government on Thursday against entering into disadvantageous contracts.
“We have to invest now, build now, but not without exercising caution. Having a reliable public transportation system, especially railway, will not only spell public convenience but also contribute to economic growth,” Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public services, said in a statement.
“Although it is relatively costly and the construction time will take a little bit longer as reportedly said by transport officials, an underground mass transport will help decongest road traffic as there will be less road disturbance to the above-ground environment,” she said.
But Poe said the subway design should complement road transport design above ground, and should take into account the accessibility and walkability of each station’s stop with that of other public transportation.
“Transport interconnectivity is key to a thriving economy and improving the lives of our people. I hope that this time the administration, in considering the location of each station, will prioritize public convenience and accessibility over private interests,” said the senator, who has been an advocate of the subway system.
The design, she said, should also be “future-proof” and should have room for expansion to accommodate the growing population in the metropolis.
At the same time, Poe cautioned the government against entering into disadvantageous contracts that she said hounded the EDSA MRT-3 and brought public inconvenience.
“The government should ensure that the best engineers are hired because although we are prone to flooding and other natural calamities, Japan, which is also in the path of various natural calamities, has successfully run their rail system with similar conditions,” she said.
She said an underground railway system is also possible in the Philippines, citing trains in the United Kingdom that cross the English Channel and in the US, the Bay Area Rapid Transit in San Francisco that crosses the San Francisco Bay.
“This is a legacy project, one that can determine the forward trajectory of economic development in the country. Millions of jobs can also be created following a seamless transport system in Metro Manila,” Poe said.
“We should ensure that we deal with reputable companies and that we get the best deal for the operations and maintenance of the project,” she added.
Poe warned those in the administration that the Senate, particularly her committee, would keep a close eye on the implementation of the project and would not hesitate to act or speak out with regard to any anomalous transaction.
On Tuesday, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade disclosed that President Rodrigo Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are to sign in November an agreement that would jump-start the construction of the so-called Mega Manila Subway system.
The P227-billion project is targeted to start on the fourth quarter of 2020 and is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2024. IDL/rga
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