A transportation official on Wednesday was clueless over Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte’s concerns on last-minute revisions made by concessionaire San Miguel Corp. in its 2008 original proposal in the construction of Metro Rail Transit-7.
This was revealed Wednesday during the hearing conducted by the House committee on transportation on the Quezon City government’s suspension of MRT 7 construction, among other matters.
At the same time, Undersecretary Timothy John Batan also acknowledged the “redesign” of the MRT 7’s Station 2 located in the Quezon City Memorial Circle which is a heritage.
“We have to balance everything, but rest assured we will not allow any fare hike or an increase in government amortization [as soon as the project is finished],” Undersecretary Timothy John Batan told legislators.
Belmonte has ordered a temporary cease and desist order of the above-ground construction of the MRT-7 Quezon Memorial Circle station pending talks with developper SMC, contractor EEI and the DOTr after environmentalists and historians pointed out that the station was encroaching on the park’s integrity.
The QMC is the city’s most famous landmark and a heritage site.
Also, Belmonte pressed for a review of the project where she discovered that it has greatly exceeded the agreed area for construction.
Based on the project’s permit and clearance, the contractor indicated 4,997 square meters as its floor area. However, the proposed floor area is more than five times the approved figure.
Batan said Belmonte’s concerns were “legitimate” like issues of structural integrity and the like.
During the congressional hearing presided by its chair, Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, Batan explained to the transportation committee of the said that investors like SMC look forward to return of investments from fares, government amortization and “commercial properties like kiosks.”
For his part Sarmiento, a civil engineer, advised the DOTr official to be guided by the practice of other countries where “parks are preserved.”
“You cannot change the structure at the middle of the ballgame. It should fall under international standards,” said Sarmiento.
Batan cited the need to make adjustments in the concession agreement that was perfected in 2008 particularly on the issue on passenger capacity.
“We really need to upgrade the [passenger] capacity, your honors. It’s really on capacity. The underground MRT 3 station in Ayala is one example where it has very limited space. It becomes a security risk if there are just too many people on the platform,” Batan said.