Revival of intraisland Panay Railways getting interest from Chinese firm

·Contributor
·2 min read
A commuter train travels along a railway tracks in Manila on February 16, 2022. A Chinese firm has expressed their interest to revive the intraisland Panay Railways. 
 (Photo by TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images)
A commuter train travels along a railway tracks in Manila on February 16, 2022. A Chinese firm has expressed their interest to revive the intraisland Panay Railways. (Photo by TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images)

A Chinese railway firm is signaling its willingness to revisit the construction of the now-defunct intraisland Panay Railways.

China Railway International Group Ltd. (CRIG) through its representative, Narciso Caguiran Jr., on July 29 wrote to Cesar Capellan, Panay Railways Inc. (PRI)’s chief operating officer, saying that they’re interested in revisiting the plan to revive the railway project and requested an in-depth feasibility study from the PRI.

Capellan said that he had invited CRIG to come to Iloilo for a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signing to finally start the plan to revive the defunct railway system in Panay. Previously, they signed an MOU on March 18, 2017 but it already expired in 2019.

This time, the MOU will still have a two-year validity, with an option to renew.

The new plan, aside from conducting feasibility study for the extension of the 117 train system from Iloilo City proper and Roxas in the province of Capiz to Barangay Caticlan in Malay, Aklan, the usual drop-off point to Boracay, will also include plans to develop commercial centers in each terminals, provide relocation sites to families that would be affected by the project, and integration of a monorail system for Iloilo City and the suburbs.

CRIG will conduct the study for three months, then it will submit a report to the Investment Coordination Committee of the National Economic and Development Authority.

Meanwhile, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, while he welcomes the revival of the said railway system, said that he worries about the number of residents that would be displaced by the project.

“I believe that [the] railway will help in the transportation and movement of goods and persons but my worry is the families that are here in the city,” said Treñas in a press conference.

“My worry with the houses [on the old railway sites] is that there are many. I think they are around 1,000 to 1,500. If they are to be relocated, there would be a lot of people we need to look for relocation sites for,” the Iloilo City Mayor added.

He suggested that if the plan will push through, it must be outside of the city, as the Iloilo City proper now has efficient public transport and road systems.

“I will suggest that if they continue the railways, it should be outside the city. Like abroad, you go to one place, leave your car, and ride the railways. Here, you ride the jeep, go to [the railways], and head out,” he said.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.

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