By Myrna M. Velasco
To support the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) build-up of priority railway infrastructure projects, utility firm Manila Electric Company (Meralco) indicated that it will earmark additional P4.239 billion on its capital outlay, primarily to handle right of way (ROW) issues and relocation of affected communities traversed by several State-underpinned ventures.
According to Meralco First Vice President Ronnie L. Aperocho, who is also the company’s head of networks, 30 percent of the estimated relocation costs shall be shouldered by the utility firm.
As calculated, the total cost for the transfer of affected families and communities of the railway projects shall be at P14.155 billion – the bulk amounting to P9.916 billion shall be to the account of implementing agency DOTr; and the balance by Meralco.
Aperocho noted the targeted relocation shall be on areas to be straddled by five major projects – chiefly that of 38.2-kilometer Philippine National Railways (PNR) – North 1 project; the 5-6km PNR South Commuter Raiway; 12.6km PNR North-2 project; the 25km Metro Manila Subway project and the 208km PNR South Long Haul railway project.
Meralco Senior Vice President Alfredo S. Panlilio emphasized that the anticipated expense for these “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure projects of the government has yet to be approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission.
Company executives qualified that the amount shall be on top of the capital expenditures (capex) that the company had already applied for with and as approved by the regulatory body.
For the first half alone, the utility firm noted that it already spent P6.6 billion of its capex for the requirements of its new load and customer requirements; as well as those on system reliability enhancements.