THE TRANSPORTATION department said it has initiated the process of directly contracting a Japanese supplier for the Japan-funded North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) Project (Malolos-Tutuban) and hopes to award the contract for the electrical and mechanical (E&M) systems and track works by the end of the year.

“The target is within this quarter,” Transportation Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John R. Batan said in a statement Monday, after a query from BusinessWorld on the timetable for awarding of the contract.

The department issued a “request for proposal” on Aug. 20 addressed to Jorma Oksanen, head of sales and business development at Hitachi Rail STS Malaysia Sdn. Bhd., a subsidiary of Japan’s Hitachi, Ltd.

The department said the procurement method for the contract is “direct contracting” in accordance with the applicable “Guidelines for Procurement” of the Japanese ODA (official development assistance) Loan.

This means that the procurement process is open only to the prospective supplier selected for the project.

Hitachi Rail STS, as the prospective supplier, was instructed to submit its “offer” on Sept. 20 this year accompanied by an offer security of ¥1 billion.

Part of the proceeds that the Philippine government received from the Japan International Cooperation Agency for the NSCR (Malolos-Tutuban) will be used for the project’s E&M systems and track works contract.

The 38-kilometer first phase of the 148-kilometer NSCR project aims to connect Malolos, Bulacan to Tutuban, Manila. It is expected to accommodate more than 200,000 commuters daily.

Hitachi, Ltd. announced recently that a Philippine subsidiary has also been tapped to provide elevators and escalators for the NSCR Phase 1 project.

Hitachi Elevator Philippines has been awarded a contract to supply 13 elevators and 26 escalators for the railway project’s Manila, Meycauayan, Marilao, and Bocaue stations.

The company will also deliver eight elevators and 20 escalators for Balagtas, Guiguinto, and Malolos stations. — Arjay L. Balinbin