Tunneling work on Metro Manila subway to start next year

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TUNNELING work on the Metro Manila Subway Project is not expected to begin until next year, but the Department of Transportation (DoTr) is already considering bidding out to real estate developers the soil and rock that will be excavated.

Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade told reporters Monday that parts of the tunnel boring machine are starting to arrive piece by piece from Japan, with the cutter head already here in the Philippines.

Dumadating ’yun then ia-assemble. Pero ’yung cutter head nandito na… Ang actual drilling, next year [The parts of the boring machine will be assembled, but the cutter head is already here… The actual drilling will be next year],” he said.

Mr. Tugade noted around five million cubic meters of soil, equivalent to 2,500 Olympic-sized pools, will be excavated for the project.

“Kaya ang gagawin ko ngayon…ipapa-bid ko. Ang daming lupa nun eh. Kung sinong may kailangan, kunin niyo lahat dito [What I will do is bid that out to whoever needs it],” he added.

The construction of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)-funded Metro Manila Subway started in February, which signaled the beginning of preparation works for the 36-kilometer underground railway system.

The subway will have 15 stations from Quirino Highway to Bicutan, with an optional extension from Lawton West to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The first phase of the project will be built by Japanese consortium Shimizu Joint Venture (Shimizu Corp., Fujita Corp., Takenaka Civil Engineering Co., Ltd. and EEI Corp.), which the DoTr signed a P51-billion contract with in February. The contract also involves the construction of the subway’s depot and the Philippine Railways Institute.

Five more contracts for the subway project are expected to be bid out and awarded by middle of next year. The underground train line is scheduled to be partially operational by 2022, and to be fully operational by 2025.

Upon partial operations, around 100,000 daily passengers are expected to benefit from the project, and some 370,000 daily passengers by its full completion. — Denise A. Valdez