Chinese leader’s Davao visit ‘brightens’ realization of Mindanao railway project- exec

DAVAO CITY- The National Economic and Development Authority-Region 11 (NEDA-11) has expressed optimism the recent visit of China's vice premier here will lead to the realization o five key development projects, including the Mindanao Railway System.

Maria Lourdes Lim, NEDA-11 director, said that China's Third Vice Premier Wang Yang expressed his country's interest to develop the five development projects presented to him last Saturday.

The five projects presented to Wang were the 23.3-kilometer Davao City Expressway Project worth PHP24.5 billion; the Davao City Coastal Road project worth PHP34.5 billion; the Davao Coastline and Port Development Project worth PHP38.95 billion; the PHP31.3 billion Mindanao Railway Project; and the PHP40.57 billion Development, Operations and Maintenance project of the Davao Airport.

Lim said that among the five projects, it is only the Davao Coastal Road that has an initial government funding of PHP2 billion for the road-right-of-way renumeration.

She announced they will present to the NEDA investment coordination board the study on the Mindanao Railway project by the third quarter. The proposed Mindanao Railway covers a 2,000 kilometer loop line that will connect the key cities of Davao, Zamboanga, Butuan, Surigao, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and General. The project is anchored on the Mindanao Special Strategy framework.

The railway project would involve the construction of modern railway tracks, terminals in strategic areas and trading post.

Lim said the first segment of the construction covers the Tagum-Davao-Digos line with an estimated cost of about PHP31 billion, to be financed through Official Development Assistance (ODA) or through Public-Private partnership (PPP).

The interconnection of six regions would strengthen the economic and physical linkages and enhance the delivery of basic services and disperse economic opportunities in urban, rural and the island-provinces in Mindanao.

Wang also made site visits to the Davao International Airport and the Sta. Ana wharf.

"We are hoping that this will turn out positive. He expressed interest on the projects that we have presented," Lim said.

Besides the Chinese government, Lim said the Japanese government also showed interest on the Mindanao Railway Project, which have been a long-time plan of the government to interconnect major cities in Mindanao and to boost development in the countryside.

A follow up visit by Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua is expected on March 24 to further discuss the proposed projects that the Chinese government will invest in.

During his visit, the Chinese Vice Premier inked deals worth USD6 billion, mostly involving agriculture exports to China.

Wang was the highest Chinese government official who visited the hometown of President Rodrigo Duterte. He opened several economic and investment projects as the Philippines and China renewed their relationship after Duterte visited Beijing last year.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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