Saturday, 13 June 2009

Philippines' LRT1 North Extension project is a debut for local contractors

The construction of the Light Rail Transit 1 (LRT1) North Extension—from Monumento in Caloocan City to North EDSA in Quezon City—is a “debut for local contractors in building major rail infrastructure.”

This was the assessment of LRT Administrator Melquiades Robles who said that being funded by the General Appropriations Act; the law requires that the project should be bid out to local contractors, which LRT did.

From the original P6.3 billion, the budget had to be increased to P6.7 billion because of the new requirement for a common (elevated) terminal for the LRT1 Extension, MRT3 and the soon-to-rise LRT7 (from Bulacan crossing Commonwealth Avenue) he said.

But unlike the LRT1 North Extension, the construction of LRT 7 will be placed under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), which will bid out the project, Robles said.

Robles informed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who inspected the project development last night, that construction will be completed in 203 days (from June 12) or in January 2010.

The President originally scheduled its completion in Dec. 2009 but because of delays in obtaining local permits, the project was delayed by four months, Robles told the President.

He said commercial operation of LRT1 will start in Feb. 2010 — minus the common terminal at North EDSA.

Robles said he and the local contractors of LRT 1 Extension -- DM Consunji and First Balfours -- are happy that finally a rail project has been awarded to local contractors, thus giving them a chance to showcase their expertise and capability to handle such big ticket projects.

Most big infrastructure projects are foreign-funded and are awarded to foreign contractors who tie up with local contractors (as their subcontractors). Often, it is the foreign contractors that get the credit for the project.

“At last, here is a chance for the local contractors to show to the world that they, too, are qualified and capable to handle such big responsibilities even outperforming their foreign counterparts,” Robles said.

The LRT, he said, has set the record as the rail project of its magnitude to be completed in one year. “If it weren’t for the delays in the release of local permits, we could have scheduled the commercial run even before Dec. 2010,” he added.

On the additional funding requirement for the common terminal area, the President instructed Robles to follow up his request with Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya. (PND)

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