PH, US sign technical grant for Cebu’s modern transport

THE Philippines and the United States have signed an agreement for a technical assistance (TA) grant estimated to amount to US$683,053 for the proposed implementation of an intelligent transportation system (ITS) in the Cebu metropolitan area.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the improvement of the transportation system in Metro Cebu forms part of the Duterte administration’s massive infrastructure program ‘Build, Build, Build’ program, which remains on track despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The development of this project shows our commitment to maintain the pace of our infrastructure modernization program to hasten our economic recovery,” Secretary Dominguez said during the virtual signing ceremony for the grant held via Zoom on Thursday morning.

Secretary Dominguez and Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade, represented the Philippine government during the signing ceremony, while Enoh Ebong, the acting director of the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), signed the accord on behalf of the US.

“The solutions to be assessed under this grant will not only relieve traffic congestion but also reduce vehicle emissions and energy consumption, underscoring USTDA’s commitment to supporting climate-smart transportation infrastructure,” Ebong said.

Ebong said the USTDA believes there is a need to redouble its efforts and meet the growing demand for development programs in the Philippines and across the ASEAN region, which is why it is establishing a presence in the US embassy in Manila later this year.

Secretary Dominguez said the USTDA has been the Philippines’ “staunch partner in its comprehensive modernization efforts” as he recalled that just two months ago, the Department of Finance (DOF) and the US agency signed another grant agreement to harmonize the information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

“We assure the people and the government of the United States that the digital reforms that we will be instituting through your valuable support will be effective and irreversible,” Dominguez said.

The TA grant for the Metro Cebu ITS project will complement the DOTr’s ongoing Cebu Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) Project, which is being financed by the Agence Francaise de Développement (AFD) and the World Bank (WB).

USTDA’s technical aid for the project, which aims to examine the technical, financial, environmental, and other critical aspects of the proposed implementation of an ITS in Metro Cebu, will identify the physical improvements and equipment required to enhance the logistical backbone in the area.

Dominguez said the grant for this project “will help us transition rapidly into the new digital economy.

“We can learn from the existing and emerging technologies developed by American experts to effectively deploy intelligent transportation systems in order to make our roads safer and less congested,” he added.

He expressed optimism that these digitalization projects will help the Philippines move closer to its goal of modernizing its institutions to make them better equipped in meeting the challenges of the new economy.

“We aim to be at the cutting edge in the application of new technologies to dramatically improve public service and governance as well as ensure greater transparency,” Dominguez said.

The TA for the project is targeted for implementation from April this year up to December 2022. (PR)