The Philippine government said Friday that construction of the country's first subway, hugely funded by Japan, has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, but vowed the project will be finished within the target date despite the challenges.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said that the pandemic is impeding the Metro Manila subway project, a 34-kilometer underground structure that will run across the urban capital region.
"There will just be some catch-ups needed," the official said during a virtual presentation of the tunnel-boring machines to be used in the excavation.
The first of these machines manufactured by Japanese firm JIM Technology Corp. were originally expected to reach the Philippines last month, but their delivery has been postponed until early next year.
Tugade said planners are hopeful that partial operations can still begin by December 2021, with the subway system becoming fully operational by 2024 or 2025.
Japanese Ambassador Koji Haneda, likewise, said the project suffered some setbacks because of the pandemic, but expressed hope that its completion will help the Philippines bounce back.
"The Metro Manila Subway Project is expected to generate a lot of employment and help stimulate local businesses reeling from the COVID-19 crisis," he said.
About 9,000 direct jobs are expected to be generated from the project, and around 40,000 to 50,000 more indirect ones.
The subway will stretch from Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City in the north of Metro Manila to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Paranaque City to the south.
It will have 17 stations and will serve an estimated 370,000 passengers per day.