Connectivity infra a priority for govt

ENHANCING connectivity and logistics is a priority of the Marcos administration, a senior Finance department official said during an online business forum hosted by The Manila Times.

“I think [that] in some of the discussions about infrastructure spending, there has been a lot of emphasis on connectivity across the country,” Finance Undersecretary Zeno Ronald Abenoja said.

For instance, the role of the railway — particularly passenger and cargo services that will link agriculturally producing regions to urban areas or consuming sectors — could be further developed.

A general shot of trains parked at the train depot of the Philippine National Railways in Manila. The second Marcos administration is prioritizing connectivity and logistics to link agricultural regions of the country to urban areas. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN

Port areas and airports also gained attention during discussions, Abenoja noted, adding that a different sort of connection would concentrate on linking tourist spots around the archipelago.

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Last month, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. declared that infrastructure development would continue to be a top priority in the government’s push for growth and employment.

“Infrastructure development spending will be sustained at 5 to 6 percent of GDP (gross domestic product). Our infrastructure development is of primary importance as it is a necessary element to improve many other sectors — to include agriculture, tourism, general economic activity and even to governance,” he said during his first State of the Nation Address.

Railways, in particular, have a lot of potential, Marcos added, because these continue to be the cheapest method of moving people and products, and because the government could expand existing lines by updating outdated infrastructure.

“There are dozens of railway projects — on the ground, above the ground, below ground, not just in Manila, but in other regions — at various stages of implementation and with a combined cost of P1.9 trillion,” he noted.

The 147-kilometer North-South Commuter Railway System, 33-kilometer Metro Manila Subway Project, 12-kilometer Light Railway Transit (LRT) 1 Cavite Extension, 23-kilometer Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 7 and the Common Station that will connect LRT 1, MRT 3 and MRT 7 are just a few of the approved railway projects in the current investment portfolio.

More extensive networks, such as the 102-kilometer Mindanao Railway Project, Panay Railway Project and the Cebu Railway System will be integrated as an essential component of the country’s transportation and communications systems.

Marcos said the government would keep improving the country’s roads and transportation infrastructure through a number of initiatives, including the El Nido Transport Terminal, Ilocos Norte Transportation Hub, Davao High Priority Bus System and the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit.

“Improving our railway system, along with modernizing existing airports and seaports, will maximize our strategic location in the Pacific. And connect our many islands,” he added.