By Arra B. Francia
Senior Reporter

SAN MIGUEL CORP. (SMC) expects the completion of the Metro Rail Transit Line 7 (MRT-7) to be pushed back to 2022, with partial operations seen by 2021 as the company encounters right of way issues.

SMC President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon S. Ang said they will be able to operate the first portion of the railway running from the North EDSA common station to Fairview by the end of 2021.

This is against SMC’s earlier target to complete the railway by 2020.

Yung first portion 2021 pwede nang buksan, but we think matatapos lahat yan by year 2022. Maraming right of way problem eh. Kasi yung dinadaanan puro masisikip (The first portion we can open by 2021, but we think everything will be finished by 2022. There are many right of way problems. The roads are very narrow),” Mr. Ang told reporters in a briefing after the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting in Mandaluyong on Tuesday.

He noted that the partial operations of the MRT-7 will already be a big help to commuters, as the North EDSA-Fairview segment is expected to carry the largest volume of passengers.

Mr. Ang added that they have already resolved the train depot issue in a Bulacan court. To recall, the company’s acquisition of a 33-hectare property in Bulacan for the train depot was earlier disrupted due to expropriation issues.

The P62.7-billion MRT 7 project will run from North Avenue in Quezon City to San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan. It has three components, namely a 22-kilometer rail transit system with 14 stations, a six-lane highway between North Luzon Expressway and a planned Intermodal Transportation Terminal that can accommodate 200 buses at a time.

The new train system is seen to serve about 420,000 passengers a day once competed. It will also have a common station with MRT 3.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ang also said they will be adding at least 800 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy to their portfolio by March next year. The additional energy will come from a combination of solar, wind, pump, and hydro sources.

This forms part of the company’s plans to have 1,200 MW of renewable energy by 2024, which it disclosed earlier this month.

“Nine months from now, by March 2020, we will invite you guys. Isi-switch on ko na ‘yon,” Mr. Ang said.

Mr. Ang declined to give further details on where the plant will be located, but noted that the plant will have no off-take agreement.

Walang kakontrata yan (There is no contract). It is a merchant plant na iooffer sa public,” he said.

SMC booked a net income attributable to the parent of P5.71 billion in the first quarter of 2019, 22% lower than the P7.34 billion it realized in the same period a year ago. Gross revenues meanwhile picked up seven percent to P250.92 billion.

Shares in SMC rose 0.11% or 20 centavos to close at P182.20 each at the stock exchange on Tuesday.