Railways Usec Chavez worries housing shortage for PNR informal settlers’ relocation along Manila –Bicol line

The Philippine National Railway (PNR). Photo courtesy wikipedia.org

By Joey Natividad

CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) sees a shortfall of housing units for thousands of informal settlers targeted for relocation from the railway right-of-way as the government lacks enough resources to complete relocation within two years.

For the Manila-Bicol railway line, about 100,000 informal settlers hug the right-of-way of the proposed Philippine National Railways (PNR) and ejecting them shall become a thorny social issue.

The National Housing Authority (NHA) has only 50,000 housing units available for the relocation, too small a number to provide relocation for 100,000 informal settlers along the Manila-Bicol line spanning more than 600 kilometers.

DOTr is aiming to complete the resettlement of informal settlers residing along the right of way of the proposed PNR North and South rail lines by one and a half to two years.

DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Cesar Chavez is worrying the right-of-way needs to be urgently addressed as it hampers the implementation of railway projects.

“We are allocating 1.5 to 2 years to complete the resettlement and acquisition of land area that are needed for the construction of PNR North and South lines,” he was reported as saying during the Dutertenomics forum held Thursday afternoon at the Fairmont Hotel in Makati City.

Citing NHA data, Chavez said there are around 100,000 informal settlers living along the PNR line from Manila to Bicol region spanning more than 600 kilometers.

“From Manila to Batangas alone, there are 12,000 families. Calamba to Batangas 25,000 families and 400,000 families all the way from Quezon province to Bicol,” the DOTr official said.

“We are currently negotiating with the civil society groups and local government units to expedite the relocation of informal settlers,” he said, without giving any assurance the target is attainable within two years.

But, the agency target to finish relocation within two years remains doubtful, taking into account politics, bureaucratic decision-making, and implementation bottle necks.

According to DOTr, the project will start construction in the last quarter of 2017 and will be completed by the last quarter of 2021.

China will finance the PHP151 billion, 581 km. railway (known as the PNR South Long Haul) that will connect Matnog in Sosogon, and Batangas to the National Capital Region.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) at the sidelines of the forum, Chavez said the DOTr has allocated PHP54 billion for the resettlement of the informal settlers.

He said the NHA has a total of 50,000 housing units that are available for relocation.

“We are negotiating to get a substantial number of units for the informal settlers,” Chavez said. (with reports from PNA)

Posted by on August 14, 2017. Filed under Bicol News,Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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