Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pamintuan to head NorthRail Corp

Subic-Clark Alliance for Development (Scad) Secretary Edgardo Pamintuan is set to be appointed as president of the North Luzon Railways Corporation (NorthRail).

"I am only waiting for the marching orders (from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) to formally set the plans in motion for NorthRail. There are a lot of considerations in the project that need to be addressed soon," Pamintuan said last week.

He expressed his hope to expedite the three-year late project and complete the Pampanga section of the railway system.

Pamintuan told Sun.Star Pampanga over the weekend that the President wishes to see the project done as soon as possible.

If the appointment of Pamintuan is realized, he would replace Arsenio Bartolome III, the current president and chief executive officer of Northrail, which was organized by the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) in 1995 to develop, construct, operate and manage a railways system to serve Metro Manila, Central and Northern Luzon and to develop, construct, manage and operate establishment and facilities related to the railroad system.

The estimated US$1.126 billion NorthRail project's first section will cover Caloocan City, Valenzuela City and five towns of Bulacan, including Meycauayan, Marilao, Bocaue, Guiguinto and Malolos. The second section will be from Malolos to Clark.

"With this project, we are like hitting two birds with one stone. We are making a new modern mass transportation system and we are at the same time moving informal settlers in relocations were they could start a new life," Pamintuan said.

The Caloocan to Malolos section of the project has already moved 17,000 families to new relocation sites. However, Pamintuan said there are still 500 families waiting to be relocated in the area.

Section one spans Caloocan, Valenzuela, Meycauyan, Marilao, Bocaue, the Guiguinto Multi-Modal Station and up to Malolos. Section two starts from Malolos to Calumpit in Bulacan up to Apalit, San Fernando, Angeles and the Clark Multi-Modal Station, all in Pampanga.

Also, construction drawings for 23 kilometers (km), including the 1.7-km Malolos Viaduct Section, and the preliminary drawings for all the six train stations were already issued by the China National Machinery Equipment Corporation (CNMeg).

Pamintuan said the President wishes to see completion of the transport system in Pampanga. But the project may face new problems yet with funding and the demobilization of CNMeg the Chinese firm holding the construction of the NorthRail.

"We need to repackage it and entice funding," Pamintuan said, adding that the project will proceed as planned.

He added that the project has slowed down because of differences in quality standards in the country and those of the Chinese company.

He also said that prices of steel also rose from 70 to 80 percent.

"We are particularly excited with the Pampanga side of the construction. Our people will be relocated in San Fernando and Mabalacat sites and all these are ready as of last check," Pamintuan assured.

The total amount of the project was reported at US$1.126 billion. Section one cost US$452.32 million, while Section two's costs was said to be US$673.67 million.

The project met stern opposition in 2005 when some senators and groups branded the project as "unconstitutional" and claimed to place the country in a "disadvantaged" position in the agreement with the Chinese firm. By Ian Ocampo Flora - SunStar

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