The Philippines builds a new urban centre to alleviate pressure on Manila


Decades of underinvestment in critical infrastructure, combined with rapid urbanisation, has exacerbated congestion in the Philippines, with the situation becoming particularly acute within the Metro Manila area. In an effort to more evenly distribute economic opportunities around the country and alleviate pressure on Manila, the country is building a new urban centre.

This project was accelerated in February 2018, when the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport and Urban Development (JOIN) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Singaporean infrastructure and engineering consultancy firm Surbana Jurong, for the construction of the Philippines’ first environmentally sustainable, disaster-resilient, hightech metropolis, known as New Clark City.

The three parties to the MoU are set to work with urban planning and engineering firms AECOM, Nippon Koei and Philkoei International on the project. Surbana Jurong has been given the task of assisting in the design of the new development’s smart city framework, one that will have fully integrated infrastructure and utilities for power, water, sewerage, ICT, security and traffic management.

Grand Design

While it is still in the early stages of development, the project is set to combine functionality with a commitment to environmental design, with two-thirds of the land reserved for green spaces and agriculture. Located on a 9450 ha site, the project is envisioned to be bigger than Manhattan and is expected to house around 1.2m people upon completion, which is expected to take place between 2043 and 2048.

Based on a comprehensive master development plan created by BCDA and JOIN, the project will be located around 100 km north of Manila in Pampanga City near Clark International Airport, which was the country’s fourth-busiest aviation centre in terms of passenger traffic in 2017. The city will host an agro-industry park and a major sports complex, as well as several government departments.

Designed to incorporate large open spaces, the $14bn city has integrated a number of safety measures into its design. Notably, the master plan envisions an urban system that is designed to protect the city against natural disasters such as flooding RAIL: To facilitate travel to and from the city, the urban centre is set to be connected by a 106-km train line from Manila. The project broke ground in January 2018, and its first phase will see the construction of a 38-km line from Tutuban in Manila to Malolos in Bulacan. Funded by the Japanese government, the rail portion of the project is estimated to cost P300bn ($5.9bn), with the Tutuban-to-Malolos segment expected to be completed by 2021. The Malolos to Clark section, meanwhile, is scheduled for completion by 2022, according to Department The first phase of the project was initially approved by the board of the National Economic and Development Authority in early 2015. Shortly thereafter, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a $2bn loan agreement with the government for the project and provided the engineering design. NST ren, a consortium led by Japanese firm Oriental Consultants Global, was awarded the contract to act as the construction supervision consultant in December 2017. While there was a two-year gap between the loan agreement and the contract being awarded, the DOTr has expressed satisfaction with the deal’s terms. “A successful and transparent bidding was completed... with a final contract price that is 20% lower [than] budgeted in the loan agreement,” John Batan, assistant secretary for railways at the DOTr, told local media in late 2017.


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The Report: The Philippines 2018

Transport & Infrastructure chapter from The Report: The Philippines 2018

Cover of The Report: Philippines 2018

The Report

This article is from the Transport & Infrastructure chapter of The Report: Philippines 2018. Explore other chapters from this report.

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