Construction for MRT-4 project to begin in 2021 – DOTr

Robie de Guzman   •   January 2, 2020   •   892

MANILA, Philippines – The construction for the 15.56-kilometer Metro Rail Transit (MRT)line 4, which will link parts of Metro Manila and the province of Rizal, will begin next year, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said.

This is after the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee (ICC-CabCom) approved the project during its meeting on December 20, 2019, the DOTr said in a statement on Tuesday.

The P59.3-billion MRT-4 project will run from Cainta, Rizal to Mandaluyong City. It will traverse Quezon City, San Juan, Pasig, Mandaluyong and the Ortigas Center, and link the eastern Metro Manila with the neighboring municipalities of Cainta and Taytay in Rizal.

“Considering how densely-populated these areas are, which is made more difficult with the lack of road capacities and ever worsening traffic conditions, MRT-4 will be of great help in moving commuters between eastern Metro Manila and Rizal,” DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said.

The line system will serve 11 stations with an initial daily ridership projected at 234,433 passengers, the DOTr said.

The construction of the line will be funded by an official development assistance package from the Asian Development Bank.

It is expected to start operation in 2025.

Infastructure Cluster Chairman and Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar meanwhile said the approval by the ICC-CabCom of the MRT-4 project and other key transport and infrastructure projects, will assure their completion within the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“After passing the ICC-CabCom, we’ll be able to release the projects by early next year, allowing us time within the Duterte administration to significantly complete these game-changing projects. It’s crucial that we start these projects—we’ll be working on the procurement, that’s why we fast-tracked all these projects before the end of the year so that next year, we can focus purely on the detailed engineering and procurement of these big-ticket projects,” Villar said.

The department also revealed that NEDA has approved some unsolicited proposals during the December 20 meeting, including those for the Davao International Airport, Laguindingan Airport, the EDSA Greenways Project and the Maritime Safety Enhancement Program.

PH ports ramp up screening process for travelers vs coronavirus threat

Robie de Guzman   •   January 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Airports, seaports and other transportation hub in the country will be ramping up screening processes for arrivals amid the threat of a new coronavirus strain spreading internationally, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said Thursday.

In a statement, the DOTr said transit hubs in the country have been ordered to intensify measures to stop the illness from potentially entering the Philippines ahead of the expected influx of passengers for the celebration of Chinese New year on January 25.

“Please adopt all measures necessary and expedient to address the issue on coronavirus, considering world developments and the influx of passengers expected this Lunar New Year,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said.

In response to Tugade’s directive, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines director general Jim Sydiongco said they have reactivated their communicable disease preparedness procedures and airport frontline personnel were advised to wear face masks, maintain proper hygiene and practice regular handwashing.

“Posting of public advisories informing about coronavirus infections and the strict monitoring of suspected passengers are also being enforced,” Sydiongco said.

He added that airport personnel were also directed to exercise extreme vigilance in handling passenger arrivals to strictly monitor those who are possibly infected by the virus.

Sydiongco also assured they are tightly monitoring arriving passengers, especially at the Kalibo International Airport, which has direct flights from Wuhan City in China – the area where the new strain of coronavirus was first detected on December 31, 2019.

The Philippine Ports Authority also ordered all ports in the country to intensify passenger screening at arrival areas, especially in places frequently visited by tourists such as Bohol and Caticlan in Aklan.

The Philippine Coast Guard, for its part, advised all its medical units to be on high alert to prevent the possible spread of new coronavirus strain in the country.

The DOTr also assured that stricter passenger screening processes are also in place land terminals and railway networks.

“As we implement preventive measures and stringent monitoring of passengers in our transportation hubs nationwide, we implore the public to cooperate with the authority and also be vigilant in their travels at all times,” Tugade said.

The death toll from the novel coronavirus called 2019-nCov has risen to 17, with over 400 individuals infected across China, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, United States, Taiwan and Macau.

There is no confirmed case yet of 2019-nCoV in the Philippines, according to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, but they are monitoring several individuals who were reported to have manifested symptoms of respiratory illness.

Common symptoms of 2019-nCoV include cough, throat irritation and fever. The World Health Organization (WHO) said novel coronavirus causes respiratory infections which may develop into severe cases such as pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death if left untreated.

Coronavirus, which is a large group of viruses common among animals, causes illness ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The virus can be transmitted to humans through contact with an infected person or animal.

DOTr-TWG: Pilot test run of motorcycle taxis to continue

Maris Federez   •   January 22, 2020

Members of the Riders of the Philippines (ROTP) advocacy group stage a protest motorcade to demonstrate against a ban on using motorbikes in ride-sharing platforms in Quezon City (Metro Manila), the Philippines, 16 December 2018. EPA-EFE FILE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation-Technical Working Group (DOTr-TWG) will not be pushing through with its plan to stop the pilot test run of motorcycle taxis in Metro Manila and Cebu following a meeting with concerned stakeholders on the new policies set by the government.

Motorcycle taxis can still operate with no fear of getting apprehended by authorities until the three-month pilot test run ends on March 23.

The decision was issued following an executive session of the DOTr-TWG officials with representatives of motorcycle taxi companies at the House of Representatives on Wednesday (Jan. 22).

“Sabi namin we are considering all sentiments yung recommendations that’s why we came up to this adding of area of study and the raising of the cap,” said DOTr-TWG chief Antonio Gardiola.

They also agreed to raise the cap of motorcycle taxi units that will be allowed to operate from 39,000 to 63,000, and to include Cagayan de Oro in the rest run.

Metro Manila will have a limit of 45,000 motorcycle taxi units in operation; while Cebu and CDO will have 9,000 each.

Angkas, JoyRide, and Move It will have an equal share of these numbers.

Meanwhile, Angkas has promised to withdraw the charges it filed before the court against the guidelines set by the government on motorcycle taxis.

“We are now in the spirit of collaboration we spoke with the secretary yesterday..we also headed to the opinions of the senators and on the good congressmen today […] hopefully we can get the success of the pilot for the necessary law to be passed,” Angkas Chief Transport Advocate George Royeca said.

The DOTr-TWG has likewise withdrawn its recommendation to blacklist Angkas in the pilot test run.

The agency has earlier recommended the termination of the pilot test run of motorcycle taxis due to the charges that Angkas filed.

The registration of motorcycle taxis is ongoing, while the TWG and concerned parties decide on its deadline.

The TWG will still not allow entry of new motorcycle taxi companies until the end of the pilot test run. — (from the report of Joan Nano) /mbmf

DOTr-MRT 3: ‘Suicide bomber’ caught in Taft Avenue part of security test

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 22, 2020

The Department of Transportation Metro Rail Transit (DOTr-MRT 3) clarified that the reports about a suicide bomber caught in Taft Avenue is only a part of their penetration test.

The DOTr-MRT 3 assured passengers that there was no real suicide bomber caught in Taft Avenue on Wednesday (January 22).

In a Facebook post, the department clarified it was only a part of their penetration test which aims to measure the alertness of security personnel in all MRT 3 stations.

“Wala pong dapat ipag-alala ang aming mga pasahero sapagkat ito ay isa lamang ‘penetration test’ na ginawa ng Philippine National Police (PNP) kahapon, 21 Enero 2020, 2:20 p.m. sa MRT-3 Cubao station, (Our passengers have nothing to worry about because this only a part of our ‘penetration test’ conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) yesterday, 21 January 2020, 2:20 p.m. at MRT-3 Cubao station)” their post reads.

The DOTr-MRT 3 reminds passengers not to easily believe in ‘fake news’ or wrong information circulating on social media. Passengers were also reminded to verify the information they receive and check with legitimate sources.—AAC

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