MRT 7 on track for partial opening in 2021
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) took control of a property in Quezon City to be used for the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 7 train depot—removing a key obstacle as they aim for partial operations by 2021.
The DOTr said on Wednesday that work on the 20-hectare depot, where unused trains were parked or were being repaired, started on Nov. 26 after they obtained favorable writs of possession issued by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 92 and 98.
The development, which also made use of Republic Act No. 10752, or the Right of Way Act, ensures continued progress for the MRT 7, a 23-kilometer line that will link San Jose del Monte in Bulacan and North Avenue in Quezon City.
Once finished by 2022, MRT 7 will cut travel time from Manila to Bulacan from two hours to 34 minutes.
MRT 7 will also connect to the DOTr’s massive Quezon City common station project, a transport gateway that will also house stations for the MRT 3, Light Rail Transit Line 1 and eventually the Metro Manila subway, when it opens in 2021.
“The start of depot works signifies much more than a dot in the timeline of the project. It shows us that when the judiciary work hand in hand with the executive department, we are able to pick up speed in delivering infrastructure development to the Filipino people,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said in a statement on Wednesday.
The P63-billion MRT 7 is expected to serve 300,000 to 850,000 passengers a day. The DOTr said it was close to 50-percent finished as of October this year.
Earlier, the DOTr and SMC Mass Rail Transit 7 (SMRT7) identified the new depot site along Quirino Highway in Barangay Lagro, Quezon City. This was chosen for its location, cost and operational reliability.
The depot site was approved by Tugade on June 29 and the DOTr offered to buy the property from lot owners at the current market value, which was appraised by a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas-accredited independent property appraiser.
The main landowner was Century Communities Corp., part of the Antonio family’s Century Properties Group Inc.
According to documents provided to the Inquirer, Century Communities was offered payment of P3,600 per square meter. Thus, the company’s combined holdings of 202,502 sqm of land were valued at about P729 million.
The department said delays cropped up after the property owners refused its offer.
The DOTr and SMRT7, in coordination with the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), filed an expropriation case on Nov. 15.
The writs of possession were issued in favor of the DOTr and SMRT7 on Nov. 22 and Nov. 25.
A writ of possession is a writ of execution employed to enforce a judgment to recover the possession of land. It commands the sheriff to enter the land and give its possession to the party entitled under the judgment.
The courts’ rulings ended the DOTr’s two-year struggle to acquire a depot site for MRT 7. The department and SMRT7 earlier attempted to secure a 33-ha lot in San Jose del Monte for the depot, but failed after a Malolos RTC effectively raised the zonal valuation there by nearly 900 percent. SMC held the MRT 7 groundbreaking ceremony in April 2016. –With a report from Krixia Subingsubing
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