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JICA Solidifies Commitment to Help PH with Traffic Woes

Kiyo Kawabuchi, Senior Representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Philippine office, spoke yesterday, October 1, at The Roads & Traffic Expo Philippines and discussed how her agency continues to support the country’s efforts in developing solutions on traffic management.

For the first portion of her talk, Kawabuchi laid out JICA’s Operations Overview, describing the agency as a bilateral aid provider that grants loans to sovereign and non-sovereign entities. Headquartered in Tokyo, JICA has a presence in 150 countries, including our own. Their local staff consists of a workforce of 1,919 employees. Kawabuchi also revealed that every decision they make is informed by five pillars or guidelines:

  • Provide the foundation for sustainable urban growth through strategic infrastructure and coordinated operation;
  • Promote competitive economic development and investment through integrated development;
  • Ensure mobility, accessibility, and safety for all including the poor and the disabled through high-quality public transportation services, barrier-free infrastructure, and necessary safety nets;
  • Reduce the negative impacts on the environment and promote efficient energy use through adequate physical measures and institutional arrangements; and
  • Enhance people’s awareness of the significant role of transportation in urban development and promote the “beneficiaries pay” principle.

JICA is the top official development aid (ODA) donor in the Philippines. Recently, it promised JPY1.3 trillion to help develop the country’s railway infrastructure. Aside from railways, Kawabuchi reiterated that they continue to be committed to helping the country’s transportation sector in general.

This commitment was further solidified under the Duterte administration and its massive ‘Build, Build, Build’ (BBB) project. Kawabuchi said that the seven summit meetings between Duterte and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in the last three years is proof of this.

Kawabuchi also touched on two key elements that their transportation solutions focus on:

  • the need for hard infrastructure (railways, roads, bridges, tunnels) and soft infrastructure (institutional support, capacity building, technology transfer) to go hand-in-hand in each project
  • Mega Manila’s monocentric spatial structure must be transformed into a polycentric one.

In line with the BBB program, JICA is also supporting the Philippines’ many development agendas including the 38-kilometer North-South Commuter Railway for Malolos-Tutuban, the 25-kilometer Metro Manila Subway connecting Mindanao Avenue to FTI and Ninoy Aquino International Airport, seismic improvement of Lambingan Bridge in Manila and Guadalupe Bridge in Makati, the Infrastructure Modernization For Davao City (IM4Davao) initiative, Cebu-Lapulapu-Mactan Bridge, capacity enhancement of mass LRT Lines 1 and 2, and the rehabilitation of MRT Line 3.

Kawabuchi also touted the proposed Philippine Railway Institute Building, a training center designed to promote a localized line-common knowledge, scheduled to be built in Valenzuela with a target completion date of March 2023. The center will feature a full-sized train simulator to provide on-hand training for future line operators.

The Roads & Traffic Expo Philippines 2019 is being held at the SMX Convention Center in Manila, between October 1 and October 2, 2019.

©Wilbert Tan for CARMUDI PHILIPPINES
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