Saturday, 4 April 2009

Philippine rail project to relocate 18,000 families

Tonette Orejas

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – By June, all 18,455 families living along the old tracks of the Philippine National Railways in the City of Malolos in Bulacan down to Mabalacat in Pampanga will be relocated to pave the way for the construction of the 50-km segment, or Section 2, of the NorthRail.

“We will relocate as soon as the housing units are completed and by the middle of this year, we should have cleared the entire stretch,” Federico Laxa, general manager of the National Housing Authority, told the Inquirer (parent company of in a phone interview on Friday.

The need to obtain full right-of-way (ROW) for the modern mass transit project connecting Metro Manila and the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in the Clark Freeport became certain after the board of the National Economic Development Authority (Neda), chaired by President Macapagal-Arroyo, approved on Tuesday a $317-million increase in project cost after five years of delay.

This brought the budget of NorthRail to $1.317 billion. The $1 billion had been obtained through a loan from the Chinese government. The additional budget will be taken from local funds, North Luzon Railways Corp. (NLRC) chair Edgardo Pamintuan said.

The Neda board also approved the immediate construction of Section 2, making it important for the NHA to go full-scale in its relocation work, Pamintuan said.

Like in the 32-km Section 1 that stretches from Caloocan City to Malolos, the NHA continued to adopt an in-town relocation policy. The houses are being built simultaneously in at least nine local resettlements where residents will be transferred, Laxa said.

Local officials and Vice President Noli de Castro, who is also chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, have been helping facilitate the transfer of the families to give the project ample ROW.

Laxa said the national government has appropriated P1.68 billion from out of NHA’s P3.5-billion budget in 2009 to cover the costs of constructing the houses, school buildings and community facilities, buying the relocation sites and providing food allowances to residents who would be relocated.

The NHA, until 2007, had moved out 23,386 families from Section 1, transferring them to at least 12 resettlement sites, Laxa said.

With nearly 41,000 families affected, the NorthRail is so far the single biggest government project that has caused massive displacement in Malabon, Caloocan and Valenzuela cities in Metro Manila; Meycauayan, Marilao, Bocaue, Balagtas, Guiguinto and Malolos in Bulacan; and Apalit, San Simon, San Luis, City of San Fernando, Angeles City and Mabalacat in Pampanga, an Inquirer review of flagship projects showed.

1 comment:

  1. hopefully this project will be finish soon and be successful.. it will really a big help for all filipino's... and it will be a good tourist transportation like in other countries,specially europe.. they have got a nice and beautiful train let's support with this project.. stop corruption!!!