MANILA - Japan and the Philippines signed an agreement Wednesday for up to ¥38 billion ($336 million) in assistance from Tokyo to rehabilitate a mass transit railway in Manila that has fallen into a state of disrepair.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin and Japanese Ambassador Koji Haneda signed and exchanged notes concerning the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 Rehabilitation Project loan.
The MRT-3, an elevated railway along one of the busiest trunk roads in Metro Manila, suffers from deteriorating track and trains, as well as frequent operation troubles caused by poor maintenance.
It is among the top choices for affordable and fast transportation to get around the urban metropolis, which struggles with horrendous traffic conditions that stress travelers and cause huge economic losses.
With this project, the line is to be rehabilitated drastically over the next four years to improve its safety, comfort and speed, utilizing Japanese expertise and technology.
The scope of work covers trains, tracks, power supply, signaling systems, depot equipment, CCTV, public address systems and station elevators and escalators.
In recent years, railway officials have been sharply criticized for frequent train shutdowns, long passenger lines and other glitches, which include defective, non-closing train doors and busted air conditioning equipment.
Locsin thanked Japan for its long-standing support to the Philippines, particularly its economic and development assistance.
“This is why we have elevated our relationship with Japan to a strategic partnership. Today’s exchange of notes affirms this ever-growing, mutually beneficial and gratifying relationship between our two countries and our two peoples,” he said.
Also Wednesday, the two sides signed an agreement on Japanese grant assistance of ¥10.6 billion worth of spare parts and maintenance equipment for the Philippine Air Force’s Bell UH-1H transport helicopters.