Ayala, SM taipans finally at ease over MRT-LRT common station

Chris Schnabel
Ayala, SM taipans finally at ease over MRT-LRT common station
At a recent government forum, Jaime Zobel De Ayala and Teresita Sy-Coson share a light-hearted moment over the common station that their firms argued over for nearly 8 years

MANILA, Philippines – After nearly 8 years of wrangling, the heads of two of the country’s largest conglomerates can finally share a laugh over the MRT-LRT common station.

Ayala Corporation Chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and  SM Investment Corporation (SMIC) Vice Chairman and heir-apparent Teresita Sy-Coson did just that at the presentation of the revised plans for the LRT-MRT Common station during the second round of Dutertenomics forum held earlier this week.

The two companies had spent the better part of the decade fighting over the location of the common station in North Edsa, Quezon City.

The long-delayed project also hampered the construction of mass transit infrastructure projects, such as the MRT Line 7 (MRT7).

The root of the problem was where exactly to put common station, which  would serve as a convergence point for MRT7, MRT 3 (MRT3), and LRT 1 (LRT1).

The station is sure to create a lot of foot traffic that would benefit the mall closest to it. Two are in its vicinity: Ayala’s TriNoma and SM City North Edsa.

Matters came to a head in 2014, when SM Prime Holding Incorporated (SM Prime) secured a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court to stop the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) from beginning construction near TriNoma. (READ: SM Group sues gov’t over LRT-MRT common station)

At the time, SM Prime argued that it had an agreement with the government to build the station common station in front of SM North EDSA in exchange for a grant of P200 million.

The agreement, it said, was violated when the government decided to move the location of the common station closer to Trinoma and make it part of LRT 1 operated by the Ayala-led Light Rail Manila Consortium.

Government as matchmaker

The final compromise agreement was signed in 2016, wherein the common station would be built between the two malls.

Further proof that both sides have since mended ties is the P25-billion C3 expressway, a joint venture between the Ayala and SM groups.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade was keen to point out that the new administration played a role in this.

“For the first time if at all, it shows that the oneness and cooperation of the business circle. The taipans are all united to have a project like this.  Before the agreement on the common station was signed, the principal parties were not singing the same music. There was even a case pending in the Supreme Court,” Tugade said at the Dutertenomics forum.

“But then with the Duterte administration, they said, ‘No more differences, kapit-bisig tayo. Sama-sama. Itayo natin ang (let’s work together. Let’s build the) common station,” he added.

The revised plans for the MRT-LRT common station projects it to cover an area of 13,700 square meters, and a traffic of about 500,000  passengers per day.

It will be built at a cost of P3 billion and slated to be completed by April 2019. –Rappler.com

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