THE DAVAO City government is considering how to raise the P2.8 billion in counterpart funds for the P18.66-billion Davao Public Transport Modernization Project, which was among the six projects approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board on Nov. 29.
Ivan C. Cortez, City Planning and Development Office coordinator who was part of the team that defended the project before the board, said the city will be considering funding it internally or taking a loan for the project, also known as the high priority bus system (HPBS).
Local governments are typically required to pay for a share of major projects to ensure they have a stake in its success.
“We can find other financing options or sources to get things going by 2020,” Mr. Cortez told BusinessWorld.
“The focus of the city mayor (Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio) is really on the full implementation of the HPBS before her term ends (in 2022),” he said.
The first phase of the project is partially being implemented with the deployment of augmentation buses in identified priority areas, particularly in south-central Davao City.
In August, the city council also took tackled a proposed P100-million budget for the construction of two bus terminals, one each in the north and south of the city.
The HPBS was among the recommendations in a study undertaken by the Asian Development Bank, which has been working with the city government for the transport modernization program.
The bus system project, Mr. Cortez said, aims to replace about 7,500 public utility jeepneys (PUJ) with some 1,300 buses to decongest the main highways and improve the transport system.
In an earlier interview, he said the HPBS is expected to require a work force of up to 10,000, more than the current 7,200 PUJ drivers.
The HPBS will cover a core network of 137 kilometers (km) and 489 kms of feeder routes, based on a NEDA statement issued Friday.
The entire transport project will also involve strengthening institutional capacity, and a social development component.
NEDA has approved an implementation schedule of 2020 to 2023, with funding mainly from Official Development Assistance loans.
BRIDGE TO SAMAL
Another project in the Davao Region approved by the NEDA board is the P23-billion bridge that will connect the Island Garden City of Samal and Davao City.
“The project involves the construction of a toll-free four-lane (two-lane each direction) bridge with an approximate length of 2.80 kilometers, a width of 24.2 meters, and a vertical clearance of 45 meters that can serve around 25,000 vehicles a day,” NEDA said in the statement.
The construction period for the bridge, which has long been on the drawing boards, is targeted to start by 2021 and operations by 2025. — Carmelito Q. Francisco