DAVAO CITY--The Department of Transportation (DoTr) is set to start the construction of the first phase of the Mindanao Railway Project (MRP) in January 2019.

This was bared by MRP Deputy Project Manager Patmei Bello-Ruivivar during Tuesday’s regular session of the City Council, where she asked for the local legislators' support of the project.

Ruivivar said the first phase of the project covers 102 kilometers with eight stations starting from Tagum City, Panabo, Carmen, Mudiang in Davao City, Magtuod, Toril, Sta. Cruz and Digos City. It is expected to be finished within three years--before the term of President Rodrigo Duterte ends.

“By the end of the year, we will start the bidding for the construction of the project. Since this will be financed by China Official Development Assistance, the Chinese Government will give a short list from those who will bid for the project and the Philippines will choose among the shortlisted contractors,” Ruivivar said.

In an interview with reporters, Ruivivar said the project was already discussed with local officials of the cities and municipalities where its first phase will start. She said each city and municipality already created a technical working group, which will work hand in hand with the national project team.

“The local government units will play a big part in the construction of the Mindanao Railway. We asked them to start negotiating for the right of ways since they know the people there and it will be more transparent if they do the work,” she said. (PNA)