MANILA — The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has proposed a Php 54.53-billion budget for 2015 that will be used primarily for improving transport-infrastructure projects in 2015.
This 2015 allocation is 15.1 percent higher than the 2014 budget of P47 billion. Of the amount, 37.7 billion (70 percent) of the proposed budget is allocated for infrastructure projects.
During the budget hearing at the House of Representatives, DOTC Undersecretary for Project Implementation and Special Concerns Rene Limcaoco noted that the projects would encourage greater private sector participation.
Limcaoco further said that the allocation would ensure a reasonable rate of return both for the government and private sector.
“This is in line with our thrust to improve the institution and regulatory environment of transport infrastructure sector to ensure the rights and privileges of all stakeholders are protected,” he said.
For his part, DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya assured that with the 2015 budget proposal, the department would be able to rehabilitate the country’s transport projects.
In the railway sector, particularly the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3, the department is currently working on the procurement of 48 additional rails. The rails’ prototype can be expected by August next year.
Abaya described this move as “the real solution to shortening lines and making the ride more comfortable and convenient.”
“It will take us a month to check prototype (of the rails),” Abaya said. “After which, the contractor will be committed to deliver four coaches per month.
According to Abaya, the best case scenario is that there will be 48 new coaches within a year’s time. The new trains are expected to be acquired in August 2016.
Aside from this, Abaya said that the department is also overhauling coaches, upgrading its signaling and power systems.
Likewise, the department has also decided to procure the private-owned MRT-3 so that it becomes government-owned and so that all its temporary restraining orders (TROs) be eliminated, he said.
On the other hand, the department will bid out operations and maintenance of the MRT-3 in recognition of the efficiency and expertise of the private sector, he added.
Abaya also mentioned the department’s expansion of Light Rail Transit lines 1 and 2, and improvements in the Philippine National Railway, as well as the construction of the MRT 7, and the country’s first subway project connecting central business districts Bonifacio Global City, Makati and reclamation area among other short to medium plans in the coming months.
Abaya, who earlier said that he is not giving any excuses on the shortcomings of the MRT-3 or any of the railway systems for the matter, vowed that he will do his best in carrying out the department’s plans.