Transfer of DOTC's transport functions to DPWH urged
MANILA, Philippines - An economist is urging President Aquino to transfer the much needed railway and mass transport functions from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Vic Abola, an economics professor from the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P), told The STAR that the DPWH is in a better position to undertake two major land transport projects.
“We need seamless inter-modal land transportation system. These have to not only be designed and built on a parallel basis but on an efficient seamless transfer from one mode to another,” Abola said.
He pointed out that the much needed railway and mass transport projects would help address the worsening traffic situation in the country particularly in Metro Manila.
“Right now our road system is overtaxed because of the absence of an effective rail transport system. The rail solution is the permanent solution to our traffic problems. If both are handled by one department, then we can blame DPWH for failing in design and/or implementation of these projects,” he said.
He cited the design of the Metro Rail Transit line 3 (MRT3) that is now occupying the congested Edsa as well as its connectivity with the Light Rail Transit lines 1 and 2.
“Why did we throw away precious lanes in Edsa by putting most of MRT at ground level? Why so difficult to transfer from LRT-1 to MRT in stations where there should be ease of transfer. These were not solved satisfactorily under DOTC,” he added.
The economist said there is a need to transfer the railways and mass transport systems functions to the DPWH so that there would be inter-modal connections at the proper place and time.
“In terms of performance, DPWH has recreated itself into an efficient, technology-savvy team, and has been accomplishing its targets on time. On the other hand, DOTC has been plagued, since the previous administration, by inefficiency and possibly corruption,” Abola said.
He also questioned the inability of the DOTC to present commercially viable terms for public private partnership (PPP) projects to the private sector as official development assistance (ODA) loans supposedly with concessional terms end up more expensive.
“The DOTC has been making it difficult for the private sector to earn decent profits, as if the latter is bad, and that the government can do things and run them cheaper. No way. Failure of the PPP framework under the DOTC seems to be due to its populist tendencies,” he said.
Abola made the proposal after international consultant for transportation Rene Santiago slammed the DOTC for the slow pace of PPP projects as the Philippines is being left behind by its neighbors in Southeast Asia.
Santiago said the bidding of three major infrastructure project under the DOTC including the P60 billion light rail transit line 1 (LRT1) Cavite extension project, the P17.5 billion Mactan Cebu international airport expansion project, and the P1.7 billion automated fare collection system (AFCS) project has been repeatedly postponed.
The DOTC is set to rebid the Cavite LRT extension project in the first quarter of next year after a failed bidding last Aug. 15 while the deadline for the submission of bids for the single ticketing project of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and the LRT has been moved to October.
Likewise, the bidding for the P17.5 billion expansion of the country’s second largest international gateway in Mactan and Cebu has been moved to Nov. 15 as the government improved the terms of the bidding to make it commercially viable for the bidders.
He added that the increase in the passenger capacity of both the MRT and LRT have yet to take off together with the rehabilitation of the existing tracks of both mass transit systems.
A study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) stressed the need to put up at least 200 kilometers or railroad and over 100,000 kilometers in road network to address the congested metropolis.