The proposed rapid transit system that will be established in Metro Cebu will be a monorail, not a light rail transit (LRT) as widely reported.
The Cebu Rail Project, an unsolicited proposal from Udenna Infrastructure Corporation, will cost P80 billion and will be undertaken through the public-private partnership (PPP) program.
Udenna Infrastructure, a unit of the Udenna Group led by Davao City businessman Dennis Uy, and its unidentified partner gained original proponent status (OPS) for the project in December 2018.
With OPS, Udenna has the right to match the offer of competitors during the Swiss challenge mandated under the BOT Law.
The grant of OPS to Udenna left Philtram Transportation Consortium, Inc. (PTCI) out in the cold.
Philtram was the original proponent of a monorail system in Cebu, its proposal backed by a feasibility study conducted by Systra Philippines. Philtram, however, could still challenge Udenna during the Swiss challenge, but Udenna will have the competitive advantage.
Manuel “Jam” T. Jamonir, assistant vice president for operations of Udenna Infrastructure, said the Cebu Rail Project is part of the proposed Metro Cebu Integrated Intermodal Transport System, which includes the P16-billion Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project.
Udenna had originally proposed to undertake an LRT project, but revised its proposal to a monorail, a rapid transit system based on a single rail. Monorails are usually elevated and ideal in cities with narrow roads, such as Cebu.
The original proposal envisioned an LRT system that would run from Danao City down to Carcar City in southern Cebu, covering six cities and five municipalities. Udenna submitted its $3-billion proposal for the LRT to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) in July 2018.
Under the revised proposal, there will be two lines for the monorail: the 17-kilometer Central Line from Talisay City to Cebu City; and the 9-kilometer Airport Line from Cebu City to the Mactan Cebu International Airport in Lapu-Lapu City.
Jamonir said the project is currently under review by the DOTr. He said they were prepared to go through the project approval process specified under the BOT Law, but hoped that the DOTr would complete its review by June this year and endorse the project to the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) Technical Board of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for technical evaluation.
The project will then go to the ICC Cabinet Committee for evaluation of its fiscal, monetary and balance of payments implications before it is endorsed to the NEDA Board, which is chaired by the President, for confirmation and approval.
If approved by the NEDA Board, the project would be returned to the implementing agency which will conduct the Swiss challenge.
Jamonir said that if the project is awarded to them, they will start construction by 2020 and target to complete the entire project in three or four years.
This means that the Udenna Group will be simultaneously implementing five big-ticket infrastructure projects aside from an ambitious telecommunications project that seeks to shatter the market dominance of Globe Telecom and PLDT-Smart.
The Udenna Group is also proposing to undertake the P48-billion upgrading of the Francisco Bangoy International Airport, the P30-billion Davao monorail project, the P7-billion Sasa Port upgrading project and the Davao intermodal transport hub project.
Udenna Corporation, the group’s holding company, and subsidiary Chelsea Logistics and Infrastructure Holdings Corporation are also part of Mislatel Consortium, the third telco player in the country. Their partner is state-owned China Telecommunications Corporation.
The Udenna Group is also developing the Clark Global City mixed-use complex in Central Luzon.
The DOTr seeks to expand railway infrastructure in the country to 1,900 kilometers by 2022 under the Duterte administration’s Build Build Build program. There are currently 77 kilometers of railway in operation. (Ventures Cebu)