MANILA, Philippines – The tandem of infrastructure giant Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) and conglomerate Ayala Corp. yesterday vowed to provide world-class mass transit system to Filipino commuters after signing the concession agreement for the P65-billion Light Rail Transit line 1 Cavite extension project.
MPIC chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said the Light Rail Manila Consortium is committed to deliver a safe, reliable, and world-class rail system comparable to commuter railway hubs in the region.
“This event brings an epiphany to LRT-1 and Metro Manila commuters. This system has been operating for more than 20 years,” Pangilinan said.
He said more Filipinos would be encouraged to opt for LRT-1 as the preferred mode of commuting and this would relieve the increasingly heavy traffic routes, rising fuel prices, and growing concern over air pollution.
“It is a commitment of this consortium to deliver safe, reliable, and world-class rail system to Metro Manila,” he added.
Pangilinan said the efficient transport system would serve as a catalyst for growth and extend LRT-1 running all the way to Bacoor in Cavite making it the longest in the country.
Fernando Zobel de Ayala, president and chief operating officer of Ayala Corp., said LRT-1 is a vital component of the country’s transport network that would help ease the pressures brought about by the increasing development around the metropolis.
“We are all aware of the challenges that this process has faced and we are delighted to finally have reached this milestone. We are delighted to be working with the Metro Pacific Group on this project. I cannot imagine a better group to partner with for a project with this scale and complexity, we are likewise glad to have in the team the Macquarie Group as and investment partner in this endeavor,” Zobel said.
MPIC’s Metro Pacific Light Rail Corp. controls 55 percent of the consortium followed by Ayala’s AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp. with 35 percent and the Philippine Investment Alliance for Infrastructure’s Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) PTE Ltd. with 10 percent.
Under the agreement, LRMC would operate and maintain the existing LRT-1 from Roosevelt in Quezon City up to Baclaran and at the same time construct an 11.7-km extension to the Niog area in Bacoor, Cavite consisting of eight new train stations traversing the cities of Parañaque and Las Piñas up to Bacoor.
“The signing ceremony marks the end of the bid process and it also signals the start of the long and difficult work ahead. We are absolutely confident that we will able to deliver the safe, efficient, and comfortable riding experience that our customers deserve,” Zobel said.
LRMC has forged partnerships with three leading French companies to deliver a world-class rail transit system. Both Bouygues Travaux Publics and Alstom Transport are well known for their impressive track records in constructing mass rail transit systems in France and other parts of the world while the RATP Group that operates Paris Metro, has been tapped as technical partner.
Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said LRMC yesterday forwarded the 10 percent down payment of its P9.35 billion premium offer for the largest public private partnership (PPP) project awarded so far by the Aquino administration.
The remaining 90 percent would be paid over the 32-year concession period.
“The signing of the agreement for LRT-1 Cavite extension is proof of our firm determination to bring much needed transport services for people despite the many obstacles along the way,” Abaya said.
MPIC president Jose Maria Lim said in an interview with reporters that LRMC has 12 months to do financial closing and take over the operations of the existing LRT-1 system and 48 months to deliver the extension all the way to Cavite.
Lim said the extension would be completed in about five years.
He revealed that LRMC has committed to invest P35 billion for the project that is envisioned to help ease the worsening traffic conditions in the Parañaque-Las Piñas-Cavite corridor.
“Yes there will be some financing involved. Approximately 70 percent of the project cost will be borrowed. We have committed creditors already,” he said.
He explained that detailed works would commence immediately while construction works would start upon take over of the existing LRT-1 system.