By EMMIE V. ABADILLA
The Quezon City local government has held up the construction of the Quezon Memorial Circle station of the P63 billion Metro Rail Transit Line 7 (MRT-7) after issuing a “cease and desist order” on the project as it would “affect the landmark’s identity as a national heritage park”.
MRT7 project, concession holder San Miguel Corporation (SMC) yesterday (February 19, 2020) issued a statement saying it was “hopeful that the Department of Transportation (DoTR) and the local government unit would be able to resolve issues with the design soon”.
This came after the QC Local Government Unit (LGU), led by Mayor Joy Belmonte, ordered the suspension of construction of the QMC station and called for a “win-win” solution to protect open spaces and advance the welfare of commuters.
SMC gave assurances that it will “cooperate with stakeholders to deliver the project with minimal delays, even with a possible redesign of the station’s above-ground structure, which will be finalized with the DoTR”.
“The resolution of issues is really up to DoTR as main proponent, and the LGU,” according to SMC president Ramon S. Ang.
‘For us, while the order is a setback, we will do everything we can to make sure we keep to the timetable, and at the same time take into account the Mayor’s concerns. This includes revisions to the design,” he reiterated.
Todate, most of the work at the Quezon Circle is still underground, and no major above-ground structure has been built yet.
While the QC LGU expressed concerns about the original design, which was approved by the previous QC administration, the design of the above-ground station is still being finalized with DoTR, the SMC President pointed out.
The MRT7 project, classified as a national infrastructure project, had been hobbled with delays for the past 17 years. For the last couple of years, it has also been mired in Right of Way (ROW) issues.
SMC took over in 2016 and broke ground for the railway at the Quezon Memorial Circle. As of this month, the entire project is over 50% complete.
It is composed of 14 stations and aims to cut travel time from North Avenue to San Jose del Monte, Bulacan down to 35 minutes, easing traffic in Quezon City and serving up to 850,000 commuters per day once it becomes operational.