The country’s first ever underground railway system, the Metro Manila Subway, broke ground today in Barangay Ugong, Valenzuela City. The ceremony was attended by officials from the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, and Japanese Ambassador to the Philippine Koji Haneda.
During the ceremony, DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade unveiled a scale model of the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) to be used in the subway’s construction. The machine is by Japan-based Hitachi Zosen’s Sakai Works. Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda operated the backhoe at the constructions site.
The ground-breaking rites are just the start of the exciting project, according to Sec. Tugade. The government reportedly plans to finish the first three stations before President Duterte’s term ends in 2022. These will be in Valenzuela, Tandang Sora, and North Avenue.
“Inaugurating and groundbreaking is one thing, finishing it is another. We will finish this in 2022. Sabi nga sa Ingles, I will be watching you… This is what we want to achieve. Sa mga nagdududa, maniwala kayo,” said Sec. Arthur Tugade
The entire subway project will stretch around 36-kilometers, connecting Valenzuela in the northern part of Manila to Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the country’s main air transportation and tourism hub. It will span 7 cities and municipalities and 3 business districts.
According to DOTr Usec for railways Timothy Batan, the subway system will also be integrated into the existing MRT-3 and LRT-2 lines, as well as the Philippine National Railway lines.
With the subway, travel times in the legendarily traffic-plagued Manila can be reduced to 30 minutes from end-to-end. A study conducted by the Japan International Cooperation agency previously estimated the daily economic losses in Metro Manila from the dire traffic situation at P3.5 billion.
The groundbreaking ceremony also included in its program the awarding of certificates of entitlement to 20 Informal Settler Families (ISFs) that would be affected by the project. These ISFs represent the first batch of recipients of the relocation program launched for the project in coordination with the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, National Housing Authority, and the City Government of Valenzuela. A total of 163 ISFs are currently undergoing the pre-qualification process for receiving entitlement certificates for relocation to Disciplina Village II in Brgy. Bignay, Valenzuela City.
The Metro Manila subway is one of the flagship projects of the Duterte administration’s Build, Build, Build program. It aims to provide an alternative mass transportation option to Manila’s commuters that is safe, efficient, and fast. The project will utilize advanced Japanese technology to make it resilient against natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes.
As the subway is one of the main projects of the administration, its speedy and efficient execution is of top priority. According to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, the Duterte government is aiming to finish the project “as fast as we can, as well as we can and without any whiff of corruption.”
Last November, the government inaugurated the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX), the country’s first “land port” which features airport-like structures and systems. The PITX was designed to lessen the travel time and ease the commute of south-bound passengers.