MANILA, Philippines – The Japanese government, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), has approved funding for the much-awaited Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 7.
Now that the funding is ready, MRT-7 proponent San Miguel Corp. (SMC) said it will start construction of the railway immediately once it secures government approval.
SMC president Ramon Ang said ongoing discussions with the Department of Finance (DOF) will be completed within the year. The discussions, however, do not include some conditions stipulated by the agency.
“There are just some conditions included by the DOF. We would want to start construction after the government approves it,” Ang said.
The government agency is carefully scrutinizing the contract to ensure that there won’t be a repeat of the MRT-3 controversy. Ang assured that the contract does not include any form of government guarantee.
Ang did not say what conditions were laid down by the DOF but earlier reports said the DOF wants the authority to impose penalties for non-compliance.
He earlier said the contractor for the railway also made improvements in the contract to build the elevated railway.
SMC had awarded to the Marubeni-DMCI consortium the contract for the engineering, procurement, construction, and commissioning of the MRT-7 project.
“Before, there were no safety measures. Now, the contract includes the installation of shock absorber, anti-bumping, anti-derail. There are many safety features that they have added,” said Ang.
The MRT-7 project involves the construction of a 22-kilometer train line with 14 stations traversing North Avenue, Elliptical Road, Commonwealth Avenue, Quirino Avenue, and San Jose del Monte in Bulacan.
The project has been delayed for almost 4 years because of the failure of the proponent to secure a performance undertaking from the DOF. A performance undertaking is crucial so the MRT-7 proponent can secure financing for the project.
Universal LRT Corp., which used to be owned by Israeli businessman Eli Levin before he sold it to businessman Salvador Zamora II, held the right to develop the railway system. In 2010, however, SMC acquired a 51% interest in Universal LRT. – Rappler.com