Get PNR going, change DOTC leadership
I fully agree with the views and vision of former transportation undersecretary Glicerio Sicat as presented by Cielito F. Habito in his column “More railways in our future” (Opinion, 8/19/14). Indeed the burgeoning daytime population of Metro Manila can no longer be accommodated by the present commuter transport systems in place, as evidenced by the daily gridlock in the metro’s main roadways. A subway system may be the answer. As a matter of fact, as early as the 1970s a feasibility study of an underground line was prepared by a Japanese consulting company but it was vetoed by the First Lady and Metro Manila Commission governor, Imelda Marcos.
The Philippine National Railways, of which I am a 42-year veteran, had its own plans to mitigate the traffic situation. Foremost was the Malolos-Calamba Commuter Line Project, which called for double-tracking the Malolos-Caloocan and Sucat-Calamba sections. But events intervened and the section from Malolos to Caloocan was ceded to the so-called Northrail Project, which proved to be a colossal failure 20 years and billions of pesos later.
Then the present Department of Transportation and Communications downgraded the
Sucat-Calamba section to remain just single-tracked, effectively dooming the PNR’s dream of a high-density commuter service from the dormitory villages north and south of Metro Manila. The single-tracked line also doomed the revival of the International Container Terminal Services Inc.’s container trains from the Manila International Container Terminal to Calamba, which would serve the Calabarzon area since the single tracks cannot accommodate commuter and container trains.
In retrospect, the ICTSI trains could have prevented the present rows on the inability of moving out the incoming containers and the resulting congestion of the terminals.
Had the present dispensation been more selective with the staffing of the existing DOTC top echelon, its projects would have been unrolled without delay. Some projects come to mind: the interconnection of LRT1 and MRT3, single ticketing system, extension of LRT1 to Cavite, procurement of additional trains for MRT3, and the combined LRT1 and MRT3 terminal, to name just a few of those projects dealing with the movement of commuters. President Aquino still has 22 months in office, and if cares to, he can put the right people in one of the worst-performing agencies, the DOTC.
—RAMON J. JIMENEZ,
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