MANILA, Philippines - The North Rail project, the train line which is key to shifting some of the air traffic in Manila to the Clark airport, has been scrapped, Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas said Wednesday.
The move to cancel the contract with Chinese proponents comes at a time when airlines are adding flights to and from Clark in anticipation of the supposed passenger boom when government decongests the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
"Natuklasan namin na walang karanasan 'yong kontratista sa pagtatayo ng ganoong klaseng infrastructure," Roxas told reporters on the sidelines of the launch of AirAsia's maiden flights from Clark to Davao and Kalibo.
The controversial North Rail project, which began during the Arroyo administration, will be bid out again, said Roxas.
AirAsia Philippines CEO Maan Hontiveros expressed concern over the further delays.
"We are saddened by it. We were hoping it would have been finished sooner than later," she said.
The Aquino administration shelved the North Rail project last year as it sought to negotiate changes in the contract to rid of questionable provisions.
Under its new proposal, the government asked to be the one to write the terms of reference of the contract to ensure that the proponents have the capability and track record to carry out the project.
It also proposed that the new North Rail provide a train section that would connect the Makati business district to Caloocan, then another that would link Mabalacat, Pampanga to the Clark airport.
The project, valued at about $1.2 billion, was supposed to be financed by a loan from the Chinese Export Import Credit Agency. - Report from Niko Baua, ABS-CBN News