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Modern Asian Railways, Airports Rising

I must say that the infrastructure facilities in many Asian countries are now more modern and superior in design than their counterparts in the United States and Europe.


The major airports and railway networks in Asia have applied the latest construction and architectural designs that one will not normally see in the US and Europe. A foreign traveler, for instance, will easily notice that the airports of Singapore, Shenzhen in Guangdong province, China, the Narita International Airport in Tokyo, and the Incheon International Airport in Seoul are more modern and spacious than those in the US and other European capitals.


Filipino and other Asian businessmen used to look up to the major American cities and Europe for ideas, innovations and the latest technologies in infrastructure. This is not the case anymore.


The airports and railway networks in America are already old and in need of rehabilitation or major upgrade. European airports and railways are also old, but they are viewed in a different way because of their rich history and culture, which the US does not have.


Asian countries, instead, are looking inward for the latest technology and designs in airport, railway and toll road construction. The economic boom in Asia that started in the 1960s, and extended into the 1980s, and 1990s has led to the construction of bigger and more modern airports and railway networks in the region.


Philippine airports and railways have not yet matched the development in major Asian cities. But I believe things are moving in the Philippines, especially with the upgrade of Clark International Airport and the development of regional airports.


I also think we can move a lot faster now because we are closer to the infrastructure models in Asia. It is now easier to catch up with the rest of Asia amid the booming development in the region.


Infrastructure development in the past 10 or 12 years has been feverish, while the “Build, Build, Build” program of President Duterte will ensure a more vigorous economic development.


The Department of Transportation reported that it completed 17 commercial airport projects in the first half of President Duterte’s term and is undertaking 28 more projects. Two new international airports in the first half of Duterte’s six-year term were built, including Lal-Lo International Airport in Cagayan and Bohol-Panglao International Airport.


The country’s railway network projects, meanwhile, are also moving. The Metro Manila Subway Project, a 36-kilometer underground railway system dubbed the “project of the century,” broke ground early this year. It will be the country’s first-ever underground railway system, with 15 stations from Quirino Highway in Quezon City to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 in Pasay City and FTI complex in Taguig City. The government expects 370,000 passengers to benefit from the subway’s first year of full operations by 2025.


The project is set to transform the economic and social landscape of the National Capital Region. Real-estate consultancy Colliers International said the ground-breaking for the subway’s first three stations would benefit the Quezon City property sector over the near to medium term. “In our opinion, the subway should play an important role in dictating private developer strategies in Metro Manila,” Colliers said.


Infrastructure and government spending will be the key in expanding the economy and achieving inclusive growth. For this year alone, the government plans to spend a total of P3.774 trillion, or equivalent to 19.6 percent of the gross domestic product, in order to achieve an economic growth rate of above 6 percent. The spending plan is 10.7 percent higher than the actual disbursement in 2018.


Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has said infrastructure spending will account for almost one-third of the number of disbursements programmed for the succeeding quarters this year. Actual infrastructure disbursements in the first quarter of this year amounted to just P207.2 billion.


“To reach our total infrastructure disbursement target of P1 trillion for the entire year, the government must disburse around P792.97 billion for infrastructure from the second to fourth quarters of the year,” he said.