The Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) said in an official statement that now is the time for the Philippines to act on resolving its worsening congestion issues, as the country finally has access to the financial means to do so.
This statement was made by Shizuo Iwata, chairperson of Japan’s Almec Corp and a member of the Jica team. Iwata said that the Philippines can now avail of several funding options, thanks to an upswing in the country’s economy. For instance, cheaper debt interest rates are now a possibility, due to recent investment-grade rating upgrades
In this regard, a P2.6-trillion “dream infrastructure plan” has been conceptualized by Jica, the agency chosen to put together a transportation blueprint, which includes a huge railway system, roads, airport and seaport.
“Before, in 1996 and the 1980s, whenever we had a dream plan [the Philippines] always lacked money. So we had to reduce the size of the plan. So now there is money. This [situation] is a first time in the history of a master plan for Metro Manila,” Iwata told reporters last week.
When set into motion, the dream plan is supposed to solve congestion issues in Metro Manila by 2030.
Jica pointed out that there is a very high price tag attached to traffic congestion. The agency projected that the problem P2.4-billion daily in losses; a figure that could very possibly increase to P6 billion daily by the year 2030 if government intervention does not take place.
“If nothing is done, the situation in 2030 will become a nightmare. All roads will be saturated. Negative impact on economic, social and environmental aspects will be so large, deterring the function and livability of Metro Manila,” Jica’s study showed.
“If a set of proper interventions are made, traffic congestions can be removed from most of the road sections. Compared to the present situation, overall transport cost can be reduced by 13 percent and air quality improved in Metro Manila,” Jica added.
Immediately, in order to bring some resolution to the situation, Jica estimates that roughly P520 billion should be allocated to the dream plan between 2014 and 2016., This covers the construction of new expressways (P164.7 billion), such as the planned Calamba-Los Baños tollroad; and the construction of new railways (P178.8 billion), such as the proposed Mega Manila subway.