MANILA, Philippines — The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has referred to Panay Railways Inc. (PRI) the ambitious proposal of the Philtrak consortium to put to use PRI’s old, unused rail alignment from Iloilo City to Roxas City in Capiz by tapping the electric road train (ERT) technology developed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
NEDA assistant secretary Jonathan Uy, officer-in-charge of the investment programming group, told Philtrak consortium chief executive officer Francis Yuseco Jr. that NEDA has referred to PRI their P30-billion proposal to build a modern public transport system with ERT trains of the DOST, at the 115 kilometer rail line of the PRI, for evaluation and decision.
“We have referred your submission to PRI for its appropriate action,” Uy told Yuseco.
Uy noted that under the country’s build-operate-transfer law and its implementing rules and regulations, PRI, as the implementing agency, is tasked to evaluate the proposal, “qualify the proponent, advise whether it accepts or rejects the proposal prior to endorsement to the approving body.”
Yuseco said he sees the NEDA referral as clearance for PRI to seriously consider their proposal.
‘This is really a breakthrough since PRI can now seriously consider, evaluate and decide on our proposal,” Yuseco told The STAR.
Yuseco said once PRI accepts the proposal, they are keen to undergo a Swiss challenge process.
“Under Rule 10 (of the BOT Law), if PRI accepts our proposal and qualifies us as the original project proponent, the PRI will submit it to the (NEDA) Investment Coordinating Committee as permission for publication,” Yuseco said.
“After publication, there would be a (Swiss) challenge of 60 days. If there is a challenger, we are given 30 days to match the challenge,” Yuseco said.
“If there is no challenger, the original project proponent is awarded the project,” Yuseco said.
Under the P30-billion proposal of the Philtrak consortium, they aim to build an ERT line along the PRI alignment over a 25-year concession period, extendable for another 25 years, under the BOT scheme.
Under the proposal, the consortium will lay out a 3.7 meter-wide asphalt trackway along a 117 kilometer stretch of the PRI from Iloilo City to Roxas City in the proposed Phase 1, with a potential Phase 2 where the line could be extended into Caticlan in Aklan province.
The consortium plans to deploy an initial fleet of 40-passenger, 17.8-meter long, fully airconditioned ERT units at the line.
They also propose to deploy an initial 20 17.8-meter long refrigerated and non-refrigerated units that will take in agricultural and marine, and other cargo being transported within Panay Island.
The ERT units can run at a maximum speed of 120 kilometers and an average speed of 80 kilometers per hour.
The proposal includes the building of world-class malls in the proposed stations of the ERT line.
The consortium proposes an 80-20 percent sharing of the net earnings of the ERT and station lease payments, with 20 percent going to the consortium.
The PRI’s alignment is already clear of steel tracks as these had been removed and sold for scrap during the time of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Designed by Filipino engineers from the DOST Metals Industry Research and Development Center (DOST-MIRDC) and made with locally available parts, the ERT “buses” and technology developed by the DOST would ease the mass transport problems in the congested urban centers of the country such as Metro Manila and Cebu.
Aside from Philtrak, the other members of the consortium are Micrologics Systems, Inc., Fil-Asia Automotive and Industries Corp. (FDIC) which was the major partner of the DOST-MIRDC in assembling the first batch of prototype ERT units; FEMP Safety Engineering Construction Inc.; Air Speed Philippines Inc.; Land Excel Consultancy Inc.; Leechiu Property Consultants Inc.; VB Columna Construction Co.; BACS Premiere Consultancy Services; and Interactive Financial Consultancy Services Inc.
Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) – September 22, 2019 – 12:00am