Mindanao railway project study faces delay (Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines – The feasibility study for the long-proposed railway transit project in Mindanao has a slim chance of meeting the end-June target as the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) scrambles to find a consultant for the undertaking.

The shortlisting of eight interested bidders to undertake the study for the Mindanao Railway Project is ongoing, Omer Tiblani of the agency’s bids and awards secretariat, told The STAR in an interview.

“It will depend on the technical working group, but due to the complexity of the project, we’ll see if we can stay on target,” he said.

“As per instruction of Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, the conduct of study for the project should start by end-June,” he added.

After the shortlisting process, the NEDA bids and awards committee will have to inform the firms to attend a pre-bid conference and submit proposals, Tiblani said.

The NEDA will award the winning consulting firm P30 million for the contract, which will assess the viability of the Mindanao Railway Project, as well as examine the proposed project’s contribution to the Southeast Asian regional integration master plan on Asean connectivity.

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The firm will be given 11 months to finish the feasibility study, which will then be sent to the Department of Transportation and Communications, the implementing agency.

The Mindanao Railway Project, which has long been planned but never realized, will improve Mindanao’s intra-island accessibility, linkages and seamless multimodal transport networks.

It will link major cities including Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Zamboanga City, Butuan, Surigao, Davao and General Santos.

“The island is strategically located and has potential as a major transshipment point and center of trade in the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) region,” the NEDA said in the terms of reference for the undertaking.