Engr. Shizuo Iwata, PhD., Chairman, ALMEC Corporation
Interviewed by Dr. Ricardo T. Jose
ALMEC Corporation Office, Makati City
30 April 2016 and 19 September 2017
Engr. Shizuo Iwata has a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Waseda University (1966) and was an exchange student under the International Association of Exchange Student for Technical Experience program in Germany (1964-65), before he obtained his PhD in Engineering in University of Tokyo (1996). He shared how he wanted to learn about how planning was done in developed countries and how this got him to work immediately in a consultancy firm called Pacific Consultants, K.K. (1966-1972) as an urban regional planner despite graduating as a civil engineer. Having seen the efficient mass transit in Europe, and specifically, Germany, and then as a junior consultant with the skills to tackle both civil engineering and urban planning consultancy projects demand, he unwittingly ended up in urban transport planning.
His first overseas assignment was via the Asian Development Bank-funded Regional Transport Study in 1971 as Pacific Consultants, K.K. junior consultant in the road sector of urban transportation. While his work has been focused on Southeast Asia, it enabled him to travel to both developed and developing countries, such as Bangladesh, Brunei, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Fiji, Greece, Korea, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, USA, Vietnam, and formerly the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Engr. Iwata began to be involved in planning the mass transit system of Metro Manila as early as the 1970s, and even set up a Manila Office with his colleagues for the then newly-founded consultancy firm, ALMEC Corporation, in the 1980s.
Engr. Iwata held lead positions in two successive major transport plans for Metro Manila: 1) The JICA Update on Manila Study on Urban Transport: The Metro Manila Planning Study I and II (1982-1984 and 1984-1985); and 2) The Metro Manila Urban Transportation Integration Study [MMUTIS] (1996-1999). In these three decades, he would continue to be involved in transport planning in Metro Manila but in varying capacities, formally and informally, expressing his disappointment on the lack of decision-making in the execution of the already piling up transport plans. Accordingly, this was what also led him to recast his focus on Vietnam. Engr. Iwata would again take on leading positions during the Benigno S. Aquino administration in developing the Mega Manila Dream Plan (2013-2014) as well as the Rodridgo Duterte administration’s Build, Build, Build program.