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DAVAO CITY – The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Board is set to tackle the proposed PHP97-billion repackaging and realignment of the first phase of the Mindanao Railway Project (MRP) of the Department of Transportation (DoTr).
 
NEDA-11 Director Ma. Lourdes Lim said the proposed repackaging of the first phase which covers the Tagum-Davao-Digos segment originally cost PHP34-35 billion which can be funded by the national government.
 
“The Board will again consider DoTr repackaging of the TDD segment in terms of the project cost and project scope. This has not been approved yet,” Lim said in an interview.
 
According to her, if the repackaging will be approved, the national government will consider Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) financing.
 
She noted that the Chinese government has expressed willingness to finance not only the TDD segment but the whole MRP.
 
If ODA will be considered, Lim said, negotiations will follow with the Chinese government such as through exchange of letters.
 
“The Chinese government is waiting on the side for the negotiations for loan financing,” Lim said.
 
Another PHP6 billion was also set for road-right-of-way, site acquisition for the train station and depot.
 
Lim said the DoTr Project Management Office (PMO) is overseeing the negotiations and meetings with the consultants and the local government units.
 
So far, she said the DoTr and LGUs of Tagum, Panabo, and Carmen in Davao del Norte, Digos, and Sta. Cruz in Davao del Sur have already signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for road-right-of-way.
 
She added that Davao City has not signed the MOA yet because of the ongoing realignment discussion.
 
During last Tuesday’s regular session, the homeowners’ association of Monteritz Classic Estates in Maa asked for the help of the city council for the modification of the project in Davao because there would be many houses that will be affected in the original design.
 
The association represented by its vice president, Dr. Victor Espino, said more than 40 houses will be affected. If modified using property in front of the subdivision, lesser properties will be affected.
 
“We appeal, we are not against the project. We're just for a realignment of the project,” Espino told the city council.
 
Lim said the request of the homeowners has been submitted to the DoTr and might be tackled when the DoTr convenes in a meeting.
 
The TDD segment covers a 102-km stretch which is expected to reduce travel time from Tagum City, Davao del Norte to Digos City, Davao del Sur from 3.5 hours to 1.3 hours.
 
DoTr said the MRP-TDD is expected to not only make travel faster, but also safer, more convenient and comfortable for passengers in the said corridor. It will have eight stations located in Tagum, Carmen, Panabo, Mudiang, Davao Terminal, Toril, Sta. Cruz and Digos. A 10-hectare depot will be built in Tagum.
 
The rail line will be built with a single track, with provisions for future tracks and electrification. It will have six 5-car passenger trains (Diesel Multiple Units) with three spare cars, four locomotives and 15 freight cars. (PNA)