Sunday, October 30, 2005


SPARED. This old PRI railway bridge in Passi City, Iloilo will be maintained as the national government begins the rehabilitation of the 117-km railroad next year.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

WILL the glory that was Panay Railways Inc. (PRI) be finally revived?
Retired Colonel and PRI general manager Hannibal Lipado revealed the initial phase of the P23.5-billion rehabilitation project has begun with the dismantling of 44 old railway bridges in various towns in Panay.
Lipardo said the P20-million contract for the demolition of the old rail bridges was awarded to LT Arceo Trading (LTAT) based in Pasay City, Metro Manila.
The Privatization Management Office (PMO) of the Department of Finance (DoF) awarded the contract to LTAT after it won the bidding last October 20, 2004.
Last January 25, 2005, Ricardo Canlas of the PMO signed the deed of sale to LTAT representative Antonio Arceo.
The demolition of the bridges began March 3, 2005.
The 117-kilomoter railway system, which stretches from Iloilo City to Roxas City, Capiz, has 46 bridges but two – Passi City rail bridge and the Drilon Bridge – were excluded from the demolition project.
Lipardo said the Passi City Bridge has historical value as it was the execution site of Ilonggo guerillas during World War 2. “It will be reinforced so the new railway system can still pass through it.”
On the other hand, the Drilon Bridge area has been donated to the Iloilo City.
Last September 28, 2005, the PMO gave LTAT a two-month extension to finish the demolition of the old rail bridges.
Once the old bridges have dismantled, Lipardo said actual rehabilitation works under phase 1 of the project will be undertaken by German firm Siemens next year.
Modifications will be made on the old line as the rail system, which starts from Muelle Loney area in Iloilo City passing through Lapaz district to Pavia, will loop around the new international airport in Sta. Barbara-Cabatuan area.
From the airport area, the rail system will proceed to Iloilo towns of New Lucena, Pototan, Dueñas, Passi City to Dumarao, Cuartero, Dao, Panit-an and Roxas City in Capiz.
Aside from rehabilitating the 90-year-old line, PRI also plans to extend it from Roxas City to Kalibo and Caticlan in Aklan. Another extension is from Iloilo City to Guimbal and Tubungan in Iloilo to San Remigio, Sibalom and San Jose in Antique.
Lipardo said the rail cars are ready for installation once the lines have been constructed.
“The railway will shorten the travel time of the Iloilo City to Roxas City route from three hours to 1 hour and 10 minutes,” Lipardo said.
The contract for the dismantling of old rails was given to a China-based firm for P32.2million.
As to the relocation of occupants along the railway, Lipardo said they will prioritize those who pay rent to PRI.
Early this year, the Philippine Investment and Development Corp. (Phividec) announced the bidding of the rehabilitation project.
Ofelia Bulaong, chair of Phividec, expects the rehabilitation to last for about three years from 2005 to 2007. They want the transit system to be operational by 2008.
The project also involves the procurement of eight trains, consisting of three passenger cars and a cargo trailer for every train unit for long distance traffic.
The railway is also seen to have 25 million passenger trips a year.
Feasibility studies conducted by the consortium of Siemens from Germany, Systra of France, and Voest Alpine of Austria showed that the rehabilitation of the Panay Railways Inc. would cost $658.41million.
This amount would cover the $164.71million for civil works around the facility, $168.97million for the rolling stock, $104.67million for engineering and maintenance and $50million to $60million for the compensation of households that will be affected by the rehabilitation project.
Other costs include the $12.55million for right-of-way acquisition, $25.79million in interest payment and some $100.94 for other miscellaneous costs.
Bulaong said that the undertaking will also work for the compensation of the 1,500 families who are expected to be dislocated by the project.
She said that these families will not be relocated but will be allowed to stay in a community, which Phividec intends to construct near the Panay railway.
“If there is no housing project, there is no rehabilitation,” Bulaong said.
Next year, the PRI will celebrate its centennial year.
The railway was established on May 28, 1906 and went on its passenger operation until 1985.
In 1989, PRI ceased its cargo operations. (Published in the October 31, 2005 issue of The Guardian, Iloilo City)


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