By Denise A. Valdez
THE LIGHT RAIL Manila Corp. (LRMC) said it will push through with the construction of the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) Cavite extension project despite possible delays in the implementation of a fare hike.
“We are already committed to building the Cavite Extension. We have already issued the Notice to Proceed to the EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contractors Bouygues and Alstom,” LRMC President Juan F. Alfonso told BusinessWorld in a text message on Thursday.
“We have completed the clearing operations for the pre-cast yard to give way to the plant where we will be fabricating the viaduct beams,” he added.
This comes after Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade told reporters on Tuesday that he hopes the private concessionaire for the LRT-1 wouldn’t let construction of the Cavite extension rely on the approval of its fare hike.
“Dapat ‘wag nilang sabihin na yung extension sa LRT-1 depende sa rate increase [They shouldn’t say that the LRT-1 extension will depend on the rate increase],” Mr. Tugade said.
In July, the LRT-1 operator said the fare hike “will assure the construction of (the train’s) extension to Sucat, Las Piñas and Bacoor,” as banks would be more open to lend funds for the company if it can recover its investment.
But Mr. Alfonso noted its concession agreement indicates the government should allow a 5% increase in LRT-1 fares every two years.
LRMC filed an application to the Department of Transportation (DoTr) in March for a P5 to P7 hike in LRT-1 fares. It was supposed to be implemented within August, but Mr. Tugade said no public hearing has been conducted yet.
“Pinag-uusapan pa po yan, may public hearing pa po yan. Pagkatapos ng public hearing may publication, and then the decision making [It’s still under discussion, there will be a hearing. After the public hearing, it will be published, then the decision making],” Mr. Tugade said.
The Transportation secretary also said the government is not open to subsidizing any LRT-1 fare increase.
“Kasi hindi kami naniniwala sa subsidiya. Kung ikaw mag-nenegosyo sa gobyerno, dapat walang guarantee, walang subsidiya, walang contractual commitment [We don’t believe in subsidies. If you’re doing business with the government, they should be no guarantee, no subsidies, no contractual commitment],” Mr. Tugade said.
For his part, Mr. Alfonso said, “As far as fare hike is concerned, we are still applying and hoping to secure approval within the year.”
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