ADB will pour funding into traffic solutions for Manila

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is looking to invest in possible solutions to Metro Manila's traffic crisis, its top official has revealed.

ADB President Takehiko Nakao told CNN Philippines the bank is in talks with the government about assisting in research and funding new public transport projects.

"We are now talking about more Manila public transport and whether we can support them," he said on Wednesday.

He went on, "This traffic jam is so serious... In many Asian countries, including Jakarta, including Vietnam, China, and India, there are so many subway projects. It's not necessarily subway projects, if there is another choice. But Manila definitely needs more urban public transport."

The ADB is currently backing two major infrastructure projects in the Philippines.

The North-South Railway Project aims to create a commuter line between Calamba City, Laguna and Metro Manila, as well as a long-haul line between Metro Manila and Legaspi City, Albay.

It is estimated to cost ₱170 billion and carry more than 300,000 passengers a day on its commuter line by 2020.

The Mindanao Road Network, meanwhile, aims to improve 400 kilometers worth of national roads in the region.

This will improve the trade of goods and open access to educational and health facilities for some of the poorest provinces in Mindanao: Saranggani, Maguindanao, and Sultan Kudarat.

However, the ADB is opting out of a similar project: the Mindanao Railway System the government is conceptualizing.

The Transport department hopes to build a 2,000-kilometer rail system throughout the region starting late 2017. Its first stage is slated to link Davao and Cagayan de Oro.

Nakao said, "We are not doing [the Mindanao Railway project] at this moment because railway projects need a kind of density in the population, and I am not sure there is economic feasibility about it."

The ADB is looking to expand its lending across all of Asia, especially as countries seek to develop more infrastructure to support their economies.

The bank will raise its annual lending capacity to $20 billion in 2020, a 50% jump from $13 billion in 2014.

This, as more and more developing banks come into the scene: China's Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) states.

Nakao isn't worried the ADB will be crowded out though. The bank puts the regional infrastructure gap at $8 trillion.

"We need huge financing for infrastructure in Asia and the Pacific, and it's better to have more resources. In that regard, we can [have] cooperation with those new players," he said.