By Daphne J. Magturo, Reporter

MRT-7 builders ready to start; DoTC says not yet

Posted on February 19, 2016

THE TRANSPORTATION department has yet to decide on when the San Miguel group can start building the Metro Rail Line 7 (MRT-7) that will connect Quezon City to San Jose, Bulacan, even with the conglomerate saying it was ready to start immediately.

“We have not yet made any actions yet,” Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio A. Abaya told reporters on Wednesday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

“But we have written them to also identify the strategic investors, that is a clear requirement in the concession agreement,” he added.

After more than seven years of delay, San Miguel Corp., through Universal LRT Corp. BVI Ltd. (ULC), said on Monday night that it complied with the financial requirement of the public-private partnership (PPP) project and is “ready” to start building.

San Miguel’s contractor, Hyundai Rotem-EEI consortium, proposed to start by Feb. 18 this year and complete the MRT-7 by Aug. 17, 2019 but the group is waiting for the DoTC to identify the actual start date.

Pressed for confirmation on the timeline, Mr. Abaya said: “I have to check when they could [start]. They still have to do the DED (detailed engineering design), they still have to go through the process.”

In a separate mobile phone reply yesterday, DoTC Assistant Secretary Jaime Fortunato A. Caringal said: “We are still finalizing details also in coordination with ULC.”

The project involves the financing, design, construction, operation and maintenance of the 23-kilometer elevated railway line with 14 stations from San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan to MRT 3 North Avenue in Quezon City; as well as a 22-kilometer asphalt road from Bocaue Interchange of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) to the intermodal terminal in Tala in Caloocan City.

“The road component will divert northern provincial buses’ operations to San Jose Del Monte, thereby decongesting EDSA,” read a project brief on the PPP Center’s Web site.

ULC signed the project’s 25-year concession agreement in 2008, but failed to secure a performance undertaking that was a condition for financial closure. Performance undertakings involve a state guarantee while financial closure entails having all requirements and necessary permits.

San Miguel acquired a 51% stake in ULC in 2010. Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima signed the performance undertaking on July 23, 2014.

So far, contracts for 12 PPP projects cumulatively worth some P217.4 billion have been awarded since the infrastructure flagship was launched in the third quarter of 2010 -- or right after Mr. Aquino assumed office -- namely: the P1.72-billion Automatic Fare Collection System, P2.01-billion Daang Hari-SLEx Link Road (Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway) Project, the P2.50-billion Southwest Integrated Transport System (ITS) Project, the P4-billion ITS South Terminal Project, the P8.69-billion Modernization of Philippine Orthopedic Center project (whose contract winning bidder Megawide Construction Corp. terminated the deal in November last year), the P15.86-billion second phase of the NAIA Expressway Project, the P16.43-billion first phase of the PPP for School Infrastructure Project (PSIP), the P3.86-billion PSIP’s second phase, the P17.52-billion Mactan-Cebu International Airport Passenger Terminal Building, the P24.4-billion Bulacan Bulk Water Supply Project, the P55.51-billion Cavite-Laguna Expressway and the P64.9-billion LRT Line 1 Cavite Extension and Operation & Maintenance project.