JICA hopes to sign financing deal soon for next tranche of Metro Manila subway  

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) said it hopes to sign a financing agreement soon for the next financing tranche of the Metro Manila Subway project.

In a media briefing on Thursday, JICA President Akihiko Tanaka said the Japanese development agency has been working with the government on the infrastructure development programs, especially on the financing of the subway. 

“I think it’s up to the agreements between the two governments. I cannot let you know the exact date but I’m quite hopeful the signing should be coming soon,” Mr. Tanaka said.

“This year is going to be a very fruitful year in launching many productive projects,” he added.

According to JICA Chief Representative to the Philippines Takema Sakamoto, the next tranche will depend on the pace of construction progress and the timing of critical expenditures.

“If they send some list to exhaust the money, we are very happy to (implement a) further phasing of lending,” Mr. Sakamoto said.

The loan agreement for the second tranche of funding for the subway was worth P112.87 billion, payable in 27 years. 

The initial tranche signed in March 2018 was valued at P47.58 billion, payable over 40 year.

Meanwhile, JICA Senior Representative Kenji Kuronuma told reporters that the number of tranches is not fixed and will be determined in discussions between the two governments.

“Tranche 1 and 2 will not cover the entire costs. So of course, definitely there should be additional funds,” Mr. Kuronuma said.

He added that the JICA continues to support the Philippine government in implementing the rehabilitation and maintenance of MRT3, as well as the extension of LRT line 1 and 2.

“Apart from those lines, there hasn’t been any concrete, specific railway that would be prospectively financed by JICA at this moment. But of course, we are open to discuss further,” he added.

JICA LAUNCHES NEW TECHMeanwhile, JICA has launched a pilot project in Las Piñas City that introduced a Japanese technology which could clean up debris in land and water efficiently, the firm said in a statement released on Thursday.

The technology was developed by Japanese company Kochi Marutaka Corp., and can be disassembled and carried to rivers or construction sites.

According to the lending arm, the equipment is useful in times of disasters, specifically against flooding, since it can also clear up garbage that accumulates in waterways.

“Aside from Official Development Assistance (ODA) major schemes, such as provisions of soft conditioned Yen loans, JICA has been partnering with the private sector under our Sustainable Development Goals Business Supporting Survey,” JICA Philippines Project Formulation Advisor Hashizume Takuya.

“This program shares with our partner countries unique products or technology from Japanese companies to boost industrial and economic growth, improve the living environment of communities, expand business and stimulate future investments of Japanese companies,” Mr. Takuya said.  

The Japanese company has partnered with JICA, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and Las Piñas City Government to launch the technology in the Philippines and test it at the local government level.

“We recognize the support of LGUs like Las Piñas City to this project since LGUs are always on the frontlines during disasters. When scaled up, use of this floating amphibious excavator can empower more LGUs to clean up river systems and mitigate disasters in the long-term,” Mr. Takuya added. — Keisha B. Ta-asan