The Daily Manila Shimbun


House hearing uncovers loopholes in rail projects

March 19, 2017

Lawmakers from the House of Representatives unearthed more problems involving various government rail projects, including the Metro Rail Transit 3-Light Rail Transit 1-LRT7 common station. No less than House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez warned officials of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) the government may end up being liable for penalties if the controversial terminal is not finished on time, a statement from the Lower House said Sunday. At the hearing held by the House committee on transportation on the MRT-LRT common station issue, Alvarez expressed concern that because of delay on the part of the DOTr to build the common station at its original location in front of SM North Edsa, not only would the project fail to materialize but would also make the government liable to pay penalties.‎ The DOTr was earlier criticized for favoring companies that had entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) last January 18, where the parties agreed to relocate the common station between SM North EDSA and Trinoma malls in the vicinity of EDSA and North Avenue.‎ “This means you have an obligation to finish the terminal or the government will be liable to pay for damages after the deadline on 2019, right? If the common terminal is not built, the government would have to pay penalties,” Alvarez said. Construction of the common station is expected to start this December and must be completed by April 2019, according to the agreement signed by the DOTr, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), LRTA, SM Prime Holdings Inc. (SMPHI), Light Rail Manila Corp., San Miguel Corp. (SMC) and North Triangle Depot Commercial Corp. (NTDCC). Alvarez reacted to the information provided by Transport Undersecretary Cesar Chavez that the pre-construction phase of the common station will take one-and-a-half years. Alvarez asked transport department officials if they would be willing to shell out their  money to pay possible penalties, saying the government would not pay because it is not responsible for the delay in the construction of the terminal.‎ Alvarez requested Tugade to attend the next meeting. DMS