BY JOANNA C. BALANZA
A South Korean company has started its study on a Light Rail Transit (LRT), pushing nearer to reality hopes that Davao City, Mindanao’s premier city, would be the second metropolis to have a modern transport system after the National Capital Region (NCR).
But Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said the Davao LRT would be smaller and not at the level of sophistication of the Manila LRT.
It would be a simple commuter train, said Duterte in the October 19 edition of his Gikan sa Masa para sa Masa television program on ABS/CBN.
Duterte said the City Hall planning office would assess the study after its completion in six months.
He said the LRT would be at no cost to the local government with the facility to be constructed under the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) scheme. The scheme would have the contractor build the LRT at its own expense, operate the facility for a number of years and then turn it over to the local government after it earns returns and recoup its investments.
On June 16 this year, the South Korean company, Korea Engineering and Construction (KEC), started the wheels rolling for the multi-million dollar project by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with City Hall on the conduct of the feasibility study to start in September and completed early next year.
During the signing ceremony, Duterte said the city’s traffic woes would further worsen with the city’s economic boom and fast-rising population.
Based on data, KEC overseas manager Dae Kwon Jung showed that Davao City has an annual population growth of 2.7%, while the vehicle volume growth rate in the Davao Region is pegged at 7.1%.
If no cure is found for its traffic woes, the outdated transport system and road network of Davao City, as the center of commerce and trade of the Davao Region, was expected to absorb the brunt of the rise in vehicle population of the region, Jung said.
Racing to the future with a grim scenario, Jung said that without a sound transport system, year 2040 would be a nightmare for city residents when the population would have reached 40 million.
In his Power Point presentation, Jung placed premium on a 13.6km LRT system from Roxas Avenue starting at the Ateneo de Davao University, passing Abreeza Mall in Bajada, SM Mall in Lanang then Mamay Road and the Davao International Airport in Buhangin.
From 5,000 to 20,000 thousand passengers could be transported every hour by the monorail-type LRT running at 70kms per hour, said Jung.
JAPAN OFFERS FUND FOR SUBWAY SYSTEM
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) — the Japanese government’s lending arm — has offered to fund under a long-term soft loan agreement construction of a public transit tunnel.
JICA was to send to Davao City a technical team from JICA will to discuss the offer, Duterte told local media early this year.
The proposal from JICA on the public transport tunnel came as the local government searches for options to resolve its worsening traffic woes.
The JICA offer came ahead of a feasibility study by the South Korean company Korea Engineering and Construction (KEC) on a proposed Light Rail Transit (LRT), which started this month to last up to March next year.
Despite the JICA offer, Duterte then said he is not losing hope of seeing his dream project: a light railway transit system, even if of a smaller scale.
As Southern Mindanao’s center of trade and commerce and regional business capital, Davao City’s roads and highways have become pitiful scenes of traffic jams due to the large volume of vehicular traffic.
The city’s main mode of public transport is the Public Utility Jeepney (PUJ), which sits at the most only 20 people.
Duterte said the JICA transit tunnel would run parallel to the South Diversion Road ( C. P. Garcia Highway), which snakes through part of the city’s southern district that has become a fast developing zone for industries and housing.
He said rapid urbanization has overtaken the six-lane highway needing another transport system.
“It’s a great plan and I hope it would materialize. It would help Davao tremendously,” Duterte said of the JICA offer.
Big Ticket projects
Ambitious dream projects aiming to further enhance the economic atmosphere are among 22 projects in the ‘wish list’ of Davao City’s Private-Public Partnership (PPP) program.
Among the big ticket projects are the underground railway or subway system, coastal road from Lanang to Toril and an Export Processing Zone (EPZ).
Davao City Investment Promotions Center (DCIPC) head Ivan Cortes said the projects were identified during a ‘brainstorming’ session attended by stakeholders.
The wish list covered a wide range of projects involving among others, the economy, infrastructure and transportation, public buildings, health, sanitation and housing.