Mindanao Railway System (MRS) Project Manager Patricia Melizza Ruivivar presented the railway to the City Council yesterday even as she urged city officials to prepare for the start of construction which is targeted in January next year.
“We hope to finish the right of way (ROW) acquisition along the alignment and the stations by December 2018. We expect to award the winning contractor, since this is a design and build contract, also by end of this year so we can start construction of railway by January next year,” Ruivivar said in an interview.
The construction of the first phase of the P85 billion Mindanao Railway Project, which covers the Tagum-Davao-Digos segment, is expected to start in January next year and is targeted to be operational by 2021 before the term of President Rodrigo Duterte ends.
Ruivivar said the MRS is a priority project of the president and he wants it to be operational a year before he leaves the office in 2022.
“We need the support of the local government units because they will play a big role in the implementation of a project as big as the Mindanao Railway,” she said.
She said Duterte want the LGUs to lead in the negotiations for the site acquisition since they know and are familiar with the landowners where the project will traverse.
Ruivivar said allowing the LGUs to take the lead in the land acquisition makes sense as it will prevent overpricing of the land, and prevent corruption in the negotiations since the LGU has a more transparent process. This will also allow the project to gain support down to the barangay level.
The government is set to purchase the properties traversed by the railway following the fair market value so this will be good news for landowners.
Meanwhile, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Assistant Secretary Romeo M. Montenegro said the changes in the project description will not derail the project.
“Whether it is a one or two-track locomotive, it will still have to pass through the initial stages of detailed engineering and ROW negotiations so the project is on track and the timeline still the same,” he added.
Montenegro the project has a multi-year allocation so it is important that the amount and the description be amended to be reflected in the next GAAs. DOTr has already recommended the changes to the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) of NEDA.
“The major challenge in starting the project now is in negotiating the Road Right of Way (ROW) as it will traverse privately-owned areas,” he said. One of the major issues in the negotiation is the variation in property valuation.
Phase 1 of the railway will have eight stations, namely: Tagum; Carmen; Panabo; Mudiang; Davao Terminal; Toril; Sta. Cruz; and Digos. A 10-hectare depot will be built in Tagum, Davao del Norte.(lovely carillo)