By ROY C. MABASA
Soon, the Philippines will have its first subway system that would provide the commuting people, especially those in Metro Manila, a more comfortable life through quality infrastructure.
Japanese Ambassador to the Philippine Koshikawa Kazuhiko made this point during the lowering of the tunnel boring machine (TBM) which will be used for the tunneling works of the Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) Phase 1 on Monday, June 12.
“Today’s lowering of the TBM is such a huge turning point. Once the TBM is set in motion, it will unveil a new era in the history of Philippine railway,” Koshikawa said as he lauded the Philippine government and the contractors working on the big-ticket project for their dedication and efforts to turn the subway project to a reality.
In the same event, Koshikawa and top Philippine officials led by President Duterte also unveiled the railway simulators for Philippine Railway Institute (PRI), a grant from the Japanese government.
“Japan has provided the Philippines with a state-of-the-art simulator under the Grant Aid Program, because we know that human resource development is essential for the safe and long-term operation of railway systems. Japan takes pride in contributing to the construction of the Metro Manila Subway Project. And we feel more than honored to be a major partner of the Philippine government in its bid to provide a more comfortable and convenient life to as many Filipinos as possible through infrastructure development,” the top Japanese diplomat in Manila said in his remarks.
Dubbed as the ‘Project of the Century’, the MSSP aimed to reduce travel time between Valenzuela City and Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) from one hour and 10 minutes to just 35 minutes.
Through a variety of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), Japan will provide the Philippines with funds to build the subway utilizing Japan’s 27,000-kilometer railway experience and broad knowledge gained through the years.
A total of 25 TBMs, manufactured by JIM Technology Corporation in Tsurumi, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, will be used for the entire MMSP.
The actual subway construction, to commence soon, will cover 17 stations from Pasay City to Valenzuela City with a length of about 33 kilometers.
Japan is expected to deliver a total of 25 TBMs which can dig around 600 cubic meters of soil. The TBMs are designed to hasten the tunneling process and to significantly reduce above-ground disruption during the construction phase.
The subway is expected to be operational in 2027.
Also during the Philippine Independence Day celebration, Koshikawa joined Duterte in commissioning “BRP Melchora Aquino”, the second of two (2) 97m-class Multi-Role Response Vessels (MRRV) of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
This latest addition to the PCG capability will help the Philippines promote its maritime stability and legitimate economic activities including fishermen’s safety in Philippine seas.
The first 97m class patrol vessel “BRP Teresa Magbanua” was commissioned in May, and has already been dispatched to participate in the Marine Pollution Exercise (MARPOLEX) jointly conducted by the Philippines, Indonesia, and Japan, demonstrating its capability and readiness in addressing oil spill disaster.
The acquisition of the MRRVs was made possible under the Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project (MSCIP) Phase 2, using ODA funding from the government in Tokyo through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
“I am confident that this commissioning is a strong testament to further reinforce the close maritime cooperation between Japan and the Philippines. As maritime nations, our two countries place primary importance in ensuring a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) to promote our national interests,” Koshikawa said in a statement.