MANILA - Construction will resume for the government's flagship railway projects despite lockdowns in the country to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said on Wednesday.
Tugade said that the government body tasked to implement the enhanced community quarantine agreed to exempt railway projects under the government's Build, Build, Build program.
"Pinayagan po kami ng IATF na mag-umpisa magtrabaho ng 13 rail projects," Tugade said in an interview with DZMM Teleradyo.
(We were allowed by the IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases] to restart work on the 13 rail projects.)
Among the projects that will resume construction are the LRT-1 Cavite extension, LRT-2 East extension, MRT-3 rehabilitation, PNR Clark 1 and Clark 2, the Subic-Clark railway, PNR Calamba-Bicol, the Mindanao railway, and the Mega Manila Subway.
Tugade said the DOTr has resumed replacing the rails of the MRT-3 on Monday.
The transport chief acknowledged though that for now, they can only do "mitigation measures" and will wait for the lifting of the lockdown for construction to resume at full blast.
"'Pag nawala na ho 'yung quarantine period, mayroon po kaming catch up plan nang sa ganun maabutan," Tugade said.
(When the quarantine period ends, we have a catch up plan so that work is not delayed.)
The government will push forward with its flagship infrastructure projects despite disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, he added.
But Tugade also acknowledged that some infrastructure projects will be affected as the government diverts funds to fight COVID-19.
Some airport, sea port and terminal projects may be postponed or delayed, he said.
Infrastructure deemed as flagship projects, however, will continue.
"Ang sinasabi po namin 'yung mga flagship priority projects, tuloy tuloy, uusad at tatrabahuhin pa rin ho natin."
(What we're saying is that the flagship priority projects will continue, will move forward at we will still work on them.)
Tugade said the contractors will also implement physical distancing and hygiene measures for their workforces when construction resumes.
The lockdown in Luzon will remain in effect until at least April 30. It was extended from the original end date of April 12 to effectively curb the spread of the disease that has infected over 5,400 in the country.