AFTER years of trying to start construction since its conceptualization in 1993, the Philippine National Railways (PNR) Clark Phase 1 Project is now on track and “all moving forward,” said Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Art Tugade Wednesday.
The PNR Clark Phase 1 Project, which Tugade describes as “historic,” is currently at 45.82% overall progress rate and will be completed in the second quarter of 2024.
“This is very historical dahil apat na beses na sinubukan ang paggawa nitong proyektong ito simula 1993, at ngayon ang kauna-unahan na mayroon tayong konstruksyon,” Tugade explained during the PNR Clark Phase 1 Project site inspection.
Tugade pointed out that previous administrations made attempts to start the project but have failed to deliver on its construction.
“Parating ground breaking ang usapan, walang konstruksyon. Ngayon ‘ho may konstruksyon at parating na ang mga tren,” he said.
Funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) Project (Malolos-Tutuban), also known as the PNR North 1 Project, is a 38-kilometer railway that will connect Tutuban Station in Manila to Malolos in Bulacan. The project was signed in November 2015.
PNR North 1 has 10 stations, which will cut across the cities of Manila, Caloocan, Valenzuela and the municipalities of Meycuayan, Marilao, Bocaue, Balagtas, Guiguinto and Malolos in Bulacan. Once completed, the project is expected to serve 300,000 passengers daily and will reduce travel time from Malolos, Bulacan to Tutuban from an hour and 30 minutes to 35 minutes.
Tugade said he personally inspected the site to prove that the project is continuing and is moving forward. As proof, the transportation chief said the project’s training simulator will be arriving between September and October, while the trains will arrive in December.
“Siguro tinatanong n’yo kung bakit ako nag-iinspeksyon kahit alam naming may COVID. Ito ay upang maipakita namin sa inyo na ang proyektong ito ay tuloy na tuloy na,” said Tugade.
“Yung mga tren na gagamitin sa proyektong ito ay darating na sa December. Mayroon tayong lugar na tinatayo ng DOTr na paglalagyan ng simulator. Ito ang gagamitin para sa training ng mga taong magpapatakbo at gagabay sa proyektong ito. Handa na hong dumating ang mga simulator ng September to October,” he added.
At least 7,500 workers were employed during the construction of the project, while 2,000 additional jobs will be made available once the project becomes operational, according to Tugade.
“Layunin din ng proyektong ito na makapagbigay ng kabuhayan sa ating mga kababayan. Sa katunayan, mahigit kumulang 7,500 na katao ang tinatayang mabibigyan ng trabaho habang itinatayo ang proyekto. Dagdag 2,000 na trabaho naman ang inaasahan pang magbubukas oras na maging operational na ito,” Tugade said
He added that at least 200 former overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are currently employed in the project, while more jobs will be opened prioritizing more OFWs, and displaced Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) drivers and conductors.
“Nakita n’yo mga tao dito kanina? Sila ay mga Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW). Kulang-kulang 200 silang nagta-trabaho dito. Ang sabi ko sa mga contractor, paramihin n’yo pa. Kung mayroon kayong kapitbahay, kamag-anak, mahal sa buhay, kaibigan na gustong maghanapbuhay, papuntahin n’yo dito. Kung qualified, tutulungan natin. Para nang sa gayon ‘yung 200 ay madagdagan pa,” Tugade said referring to employees who were present during his inspection.
“Kung may mga kakilala kayong mga kunduktor, mga jeepney driver na gustong maghanapbuhay, kung qualified eh pumunta dito at bibigyan natin sila ng pagkakataon.”
Joining Tugade in the site inspection were Bulacan 4th District Representative Henry Villarica, Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian, Philippine National Railways General Manager Junn Magno, DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan, DOTr Chief of Staff and Assistant Secretary for Procurement and Project Implementation Giovanni Lopez, Assistant Secretary for Railways Fidel Cruz, and representatives from Taisei – DMCI Joint Venture, and NSTren Consortium.