Groundworks to Begin Soon for USD 3.5 Billion Subway in Manila’s Top CBD

Aug 2019

The Makati City government has recently signed a joint venture (JV) agreement with local contractor Philippine Infradev Holdings Inc. (Infradev) for the construction and operation of the USD 3.5-billion intra-city subway project – the largest Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project ever undertaken by a local government unit (LGU) in the Philippines.

Makati, with a total land area of 27.36 square kilometers or 2,735 hectares, is home to the country’s premier financial and central business district (CBD). Even though the city’s population is only nearly 600,000 (as of the 2015 national census), Makati hosts an estimated population of 4.5 million during the day because of the number of individuals who go to the city to work, play and shop, particularly in the CBD area. This results in heavy traffic congestion that is one of the worst in the world. Hence, the Makati subway project, also dubbed as ‘MkTr’, is long overdue and aims to ease traffic bottlenecks within the city, with the project having a 10-10-10 theme – 10 air-conditioned, underground stations running on a 10-kilometer line for a 10 minute end-to-end trip. Up to six car trains can be accommodated with room for over 200 persons per car. More than 700,000 passengers per day could be accommodated by the mass transport system.

MkTR is expected to be operational by 2025, with groundworks set to begin within the next few months in preparation for the arrival of a tunnel boring machine this coming December. A feasibility study has been undertaken to address considerations such as earthquakes and fault lines in the area, wherein a feasibility study has been undertaken and is an engineering concern that will be addressed by its construction team. Another consideration is MkTR’s potential interconnectivity with the national government’s planned rail projects under the “Build, Build, Build” Infrastructure program.

Philippine Infradev will be in charge of building the entire railway system and will be handling its operations and maintenance after its completion. However, the Makati City government being a minority shareholder as a part owner because of some contributions in terms of the land that will be used for the stations, will have a hand on running the subway from its construction to its operation. The project is a JV agreement, and is not a build-operate transfer (BOT), so the city government will always be a part of this project.

Philippine Infradev secured the 50-year deal after posting its USD 350-million performance bond to undertake the project, and after the firm went through a 60-day competitive Swiss Challenge and obtained the approval from Makati’s City Council. Joining Philippine Infradev in the construction of MkTR are Chinese partners Greenland Holdings Group, Jiangsu Provincial Construction Group Co. Ltd., Holdings Ltd. and China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd.

With a total projected cost of USD 3.5 billion, Philippine Infradev said the actual cost might be lowered from the projected USD 3.5 billion by using technology from the above Chinese partners. To keep passenger fares low, the firm plans to lease property, offer advertising opportunities, and generate multiple non-fare revenues. End-to-end fare of the Makati City Subway is expected to be a little above PHP 20 or about 40 cents US. Philippine Infradev hopes to recoup its investments from building the subway after 10 years, with profitability seen in about five years from the start of operations.

(Sources:; Philippine Infrastructure and Constructions Club; Manila Bulletin;; BusinessWorld; Philippine News Agency)

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