MPIC-Ayala tandem vows a ‘world-class’ LRT1
The consortium of the groups, Light Rail Manila, was the lone bidder for the public-private partnership (PPP) project. The consortium is led by MPIC, with a 55% stake, and Ayala, with 35%. Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Pte Ltd holds the remaining 10%.
MPIC president Jose Maria Lim said the consortium has 12 months to do financial closing and take over the operations of the existing LRT1 system and 48 months to complete the extension project.
"This is our biggest project so far, although I have nothing to do with the enormity of the project," said Deparment of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, who was a Cavite congressman before his appointment to the agency.
During the concession agreement signing, the consortium paid DOTC 10% of its P9.35-billion ($209.05 million) offer. The remaining amount will be paid throughout the 32-year concession period, Abaya said. The government will pay P30 billion ($670.66 million).
Financing the consortium's debt portion will be done by local banks, "because this is a peso revenue business," MPIC chairman Manuel Pangilinan said.
Transaction advisers to the project grantors are the International Finance Corporation, the Development Bank of the Philippines, Pinsent Masons LLP, and C&G Law.
Pangilinan said the extended LRT1 will be the longest in the country. He added that an efficient transport system would serve as a catalyst for growth.
LRT1 is a vital component of the country’s transport network. It is expected to help ease the pressures brought about by the increasing development around the metropolis, said Fernando Zobel de Ayala, president and chief operating officer of Ayala Corporation.
The LRT extension project will lengthen Line 1 from 20.7 kilometers to 32.4 km, with a new south endpoint in Niog, Bacoor, Cavite. Approximately 10.5 km of the Cavite Extension System will be elevated and 1.2 km will be at grade level.
The extension will serve nearly 4 million residents of Parañaque, Las Piñas, and Cavite.
Word-class rail system
The Light Rail Manila Consortium targets to complete the extension project by 2019.
The consortium partnered with Bouygues Travaux Publics and Alstom Transport, known for constructing mass rail transit systems in France and other parts of the world. The RATP Group, which operates Paris Metro, has been tapped as technical partner.
The consortium is committed to deliver a safe, reliable, and world-class rail system comparable to commuter railway hubs in the region, Pangilinan said.
"We endeavor to rehab the existing system, the tracks of the platforms, and we're looking at the possibility of commercial spaces and escalators. Hong Kong is a good model for the light rail," Pangilinan told reporters.
Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) spokesperson Hernando Cabrera said the line currently has 140 light rail vehicles or cars – one of them was destroyed in the 2000 Rizal Day bombing, while 97 are in running condition.
"Others are either under repair, waiting for parts, or waiting for rehabilitation," Cabrera said in a text message to Rappler.
More Filipinos would be encouraged to ride LRT1 and the extension project would relieve the greater Metro Manila area from increasingly heavy traffic, rising fuel prices, and air pollution, Pangilinan added.
"Enhancements are expected once the consortium will take over, such as the augmentation of the train and the efficiency of the station," said Eric Francia, Ayala Corporation managing director.
LRTA is preparing to acquire right of way, which now hovers at 90%. The remaining portions of the rails are still owned by private individuals, while other are identified public lands, Francia said.
Francia added that they would acquire additional 30 trains to the line, making the total number of trains of LRT1 to 70. Such improvement would also increase LRT1’s current daily ridership of about 500,000 to 800,000, he added. – Rappler.com
($1 = P44.73)