The commitment to build up an efficient and reliable network of transportation systems can often be seen within the Department of Transportation (DoTr) in the previous years. Driven by the present administration’s infrastructure agenda, DoTr has been visibly diligent in initiating and completing several projects around the country recently.
DoTr completed a total of 119 airport projects from 2016 to 2019, the Philippine News Agency reported on Dec. 30, 2019. Seventy projects are under the department, while 49 are under the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.
Among these completed projects, Sangley Airport in Cavite was intensively pushed to be completed within four months of 24/7 construction. Seen as one of the solutions to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the Sangley Airport had its operational dry run on Oct. 29, 2019 and commenced general aviation and turbopop cargo operations the following month.
Also seen to help ease congestion in NAIA, the Bulacan International Airport had its notice of award issued to San Miguel Holdings Corporation on Aug. 14, 2019 and concession agreement signed on Sept. 18, 2019.
Clark International Airport (CRK), meanwhile, is now handled by the Luzon International Premier Airport Development Corp. when DoTr turned over the airport’s operations and management on Aug. 16, 2019. A new passenger terminal for CRK is being constructed, BusinessWorld reported last Jan. 9, and the DoTr said that the project “is deemed 93.31% complete.”
Rehabilitations of some of the country’s airports were also conducted last year, including the NAIA Terminal 2 and the recently expanded Camiguin Airport.
Night-rating projects are also in DoTr’s pipeline, in efforts “to increase the operational efficiency of airports and reduce day-time flight congestion.” As of the end of 2019, 23 out of 42 commercial airports have been night-rated.
Railway infrastructure projects have also progressed last year, with six railway projects under construction.
The Metro Manila Subway, the Philippines’ first underground railway system, broke ground last Feb. 27, 2019, and the clearing phase of the subway’s construction began last Dec. 21.
Year 2019 also saw the nearing completion (96%) of a portion of the Common Station in Quezon City, which will connect MRT-3, MRT-7, LRT-1, and the Metro Manila Subway.
LRT-1 Cavite Extension and LRT-2 East Extension projects are 30.74% and 71.19% complete, respectively, as of October 2019. MRT-7 is more than 50.69% complete as of last January.
MRT-3 has undergone rehabilitation in 2019, with mainline tracks replaced and its signaling and communications system modernized, among other improvements. Moreover, Dalian Trains entered the system last year, from test runs in the first months to the regular fleet of one train set during evening off-peak hours since Oct. 15, 2019.
Under the North South Commuter Railway Project, the Philippine National Railways Clark Phase 1, which runs from Tutuban to Malolos, started its actual construction on Feb. 15, 2019; while Phase 2, which runs from Malolos to Clark, reportedly attracted “record-high” 11 bidders.
Before the year ended, PNR formally extended its rail services to Los Baños, Laguna with the addition of new stations and a train set from Japan. Furthermore, brand new Diesel Multiple Unit railcars came from Indonesia, adding two new trains to the expanded line.
Other rail projects in the pipeline include the PNR Calamba, PNR Bicol (Subic to Clark), Mindanao Railway, LRT-2 West Extension, LRT-4, and the Cebu Monorail.
Maritime projects continue to unfold as well, with 325 port projects finished from 2016 to 2019. A total of 181 commercial port projects are under the Philippine Ports Authority, while 144 social and tourism port projects are under the DoTr.
Among the completed port projects, the new passenger terminal building at Cagayan de Oro (CDO) Port is the country’s largest, with a daily capacity of 3,000 passengers. The port’s new electronic gate complex with weighbridge was inaugurated on July 15, 2019. Opol Port in Misamis Oriental was also unveiled on the same date, serving as a back-up port to help decongest the CDO Port.
Within Metro Manila, the DoTr launched the Cavite-Manila Ferry Service last December 2019, with two vessels, namely the MB Seaborne and the MV Island Sabtang, serving the Cavite City Port to Liwasang Bonifacio route.
Batangas Container Terminal Expansion Project, which increases the annual handling capacity of the Port of Batangas from 300,000 TEUs to 400,000 TEUs, was completed on April 29, 2019.
Projects in progress include the Isabela Port in Basilan, the PAGASA Seaport Project Phase 1, and the Cebu International Container Port.
As DoTr celebrates 121 years in service, DoTr Secretary Arthur P. Tugade stressed among the department’s staff to value both their accomplishments and their targets.
“Let’s savor this moment by thinking of what has been done, and what we expect to do. By making a commitment that what has been done is not enough, because the best is never enough. And the best is yet to come,” Mr. Tugade said in a statement. — Adrian Paul B. Conoza