By Arra B. Francia, Reporter
DM CONSUNJI, Inc. is currently in talks with a Japanese partner to form a consortium that will bid for the construction contract for the North-South Commuter Rail (NSCR) traversing Malolos to Tutuban.
DM Consunji Chairman Isidro A. Consunji said he will be flying to Japan on Tuesday to continue ongoing discussions with a Japanese firm for a project involving the installation of the railway’s civil works and system.
“I think the Japanese are serious kasi naglabas na sila ng (because they prepared) bid documents… Kailangan may (There is a need for a) local counterpart,” Mr. Consunji said during a briefing over the weekend.
The $2.88-billion NSCR — running from Malolos, Bulacan to Tutuban, Manila — will be funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency through official development assistance loans.
Mr. Consunji said the Japanese company has already shown the engineering design and specifications of the railway, noting the difficult part is convincing the Japanese that a local firm can handle such a large project.
“One of the issues is: can a Filipino company handle a project this big? Pero ang Pilipino madali naman mag-scale up pag malaki ang trabaho. Hindi naman mahirap (But for Filipinos, it is easy to scale up if it is a big job. It’s not hard),” he said.
The NSCR is the first phase of the North-South Railway Project, spanning Metro Manila to Albay. The entire railway will consist of four tracks, the first of which connects Malolos, Bulacan to Tutuban, Manila. The second phase will link Tutuban to Los Baños, Laguna. The Malolos-Clark railway will be connected to the Tutuban-Malolos portion, while the fourth phase will connect Calamba, Laguna to Legazpi, Albay.
Mr. Consunji expects the government to tap various contractors for different phases of the project to speed up its completion.
The NSCR, which will use electric and high-speed technology, is expected to service up to 100,000 passengers per hour. In comparison, the Light Rail Transit has a capacity of around 20,000 passengers per hour.
The project aims to ease congestion in Metro Manila, with the 37.6 kilometer-Malolos-Tutuban line expected to cut travel time from two hours to 35 minutes.
“That’s a very big change in Metro Manila. We should aim for that to happen,” Mr. Consunji said, calling the project a “game-changer” for transportation in the Philippines.
Should the DMCI consortium secure the contract, Mr. Consunji said it would take three years to complete the project.
The executive further added there will be no right of way issues since the company will use the line of the Philippine National Railway.
“Walang right of way issue, kaya ang laki ng chance it can happen (There is no right of way issue, so there’s a big chance it can happen),” Mr. Consunji said.
The NSCR is one of the flagship projects of the current administration’s infrastructure program called “Build, Build, Build.” In December last year, the Department of Transportation awarded the consulting contract for NSCR to a Japanese consortium led by Oriental Consultants Global.
DM Consunji is part of diversified engineering conglomerate DMCI Holdings, Inc. The listed company’s net income rose 5% to P4.3 billion during the January to March period of 2018, lifted by an 8% climb in revenues to P20.3 billion. The company was affected by unplanned outages from its power business during the period, which was offset by higher coal prices.