MANILA - Dozens of Filipino engineers who are currently working on rail projects abroad are willing to go back to the Philippines to help build railways, particularly the Metro Manila Subway, the country's transportation secretary said on Thursday.
More than 60 Filipino railway engineers and technicians currently employed in Bahrain, Qatar and Denmark agreed to work on rail projects in the Philippines, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade told senators.
The engineers said that they want to help build infrastructure in the Philippines, as well as be closer to their families.
"Pumirma ho sila ng mga application form. Basta maumpisahan lang yung subway project, given a reasonable time, they are ready to come back," Tugade said during a Senate hearing on his Department's budget.
(They signed application forms. When the subway project starts, and they are given a reasonable time, they are ready to come back.)
The Metro Manila subway broke ground in February this year but actual drilling of the subway tunnels is not expected to begin until November or December this year.
The underground rail system, which is the country's first, is among the flagship projects under President Rodrigo Duterte's P8 trillion infrastructure program.
The 36-kilometer subway will stretch from Valenzuela on the capital's northern end to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, promising as fast as 30 minutes of travel time from end to end.
The government earlier said it hopes to open the first 3 stations in Valenzuela, Tandang Sora, and North Avenue before Duterte's term ends in 2022.
Kyodo News, however, reported that contractors and people familiar with the project said the government's target timeline may increase the total cost, while the acquisition of land for its stations could take longer than estimated.