Japan announced on August 12 (Friday) that it will be investing $2.4 billion in a new railway system in the Philippines to help ease the worsening traffic conditions in the country.
The announcement came after Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida met with President Rodrigo Duterte at the presidential guest house in Davao City last August 11, 2016. The multi-billion fund aims to build a 38-kilometer (24-mile) elevated commuter line which will connect Manila to the nearby province of Bulacan—a project that will help decongest roads which had been negatively affecting economic activity. A Japanese-funded study showed that the traffic problems plaguing Manila cost the Philippines an estimated $64 million a day in 2015. Aside from the economic drawbacks caused by traffic jams, public commuters are the ones who are the most negatively affected by long lines and overcrowding in the Manila railway system which is supposed to be an alternative to congested roads.
In an interview in Manila, the Deputy press secretary for Japan’s foreign ministry Masato Ohtaka elaborated on the details of this joint venture by Japan and the Philippines.
“This is one of the biggest projects Japan has ever embarked upon using the yen loan… Railways are one of our fortes … We sympathise with the Filipinos that this is a project that needs to be done very, very quickly,” Ohtaka told the Manila-based reporters.
The Japanese deputy also stated that Japan is also open to the possibility of building a railway in the southern region of Mindanao where China had previously offered funding.
The multi-dollar billion loan for the Philippine transportation department will be payable over 40 years. Other information about the project, specifically the timeline, were not specified by Ohtaka.