MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is standing by its decision to put up the P1.4 billion ($31.98 million*) Light Rail Transit – Metro Rail Transit (LRT-MRT) common station in front of the TriNoma mall instead of SM City North EDSA.
Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the agency is sticking to its earlier decision to locate the proposed train station in TriNoma mall owned by property giant Ayala Land Inc instead of SM City North EDSA of retail and banking magnate Henry Sy.
“It is clear in the contract and our view is still the same that it should be in TriNoma,” Abaya said in Filipino on Thursday, August 21.
However, Abaya clarified that the DOTC is still looking for a “win-win” solution that would appease SM Prime Holdings Inc. (SMPHI).
The Sy company secured a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Supreme Court to stop the government from transferring the location of the proposed common station.
SMPHI also claimed it had naming rights to the station after paying the government the sum of P200 million ($4.59 million). (READ: Why SM is after the MRT-LRT common station)
On June 23, the Pasay court junked SMPHI’s application for a TRO and preliminary injunction. SMPHI then elevated the case to the Supreme Court.
The DOTC, for its part, said the MOA had lapsed in 2011, as the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) had approved the construction of the common station at TriNoma.
On August 5, it was reported that DOTC was eyeing putting up a “mini” common station for the LRT and MRT in front of the SM City North EDSA mall to appease SMPHI. It will house both the LRT 1 and the proposed P63-billion ($1.44-billion) MRT 7 of diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corporation, while the common station in front of TriNoma would house both LRT 1 and MRT 3.
SMPHI is lukewarm to the proposal and has withheld comment on the matter, saying they have not received any specific DOTC proposal.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency is already conducting a study to make sure that the traffic of the 3 mass transit systems would not be affected by the mini station.
Meanwhile, infrastructure giant Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) – the biggest shareholder of Light Rail Manila Consortium – is set to finalize the design of the proposed common station of the LRT and MRT.
LRT 1 award still pending
The design of the common station was bundled in the bidding of the P65 billion ($1.49 billion) LRT 1 Cavite extension project wherein Light Rail Manila Consortium was the lone bidder and offered to pay P9.35 billion ($213.65 million).
Putting up another train station in front of SM City North EDSA does not require an amendment of the concession agreement to the Light Rail Manila Consortium, Abaya said.
“There is a provision [in the agreement] to add stations,” Abaya said.
While waiting for an opinion from the Office of the Solicitor General, the agency is studying the possibility of awarding the contract for the PPP project on the condition that the location of the common station is subject to the decision of the High Court.
“We could award LRT 1 because it is clear what is being restrained is moving the common station. We could even award with the condition that the eventual common station would be subject to the Supreme Court,” Abaya said.
The agency had appealed to SMPHI to withdraw the case it filed, saying it is delaying the award of the LRT 1 Cavite extension project to the Light Rail Manila Consortium of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation and Ayala Corporation. – Rappler.com
*($1 = P43.76)