MRT-7 depot construction starts as courts grant DOTr, SMC right of way
The construction of the 20-hectare depot of the Metro Rail Transit Line 7 (MRT-7) has finally started, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said Wednesday.
This development came after local courts have granted the DOTr and concessionaire San Miguel Corp. (SMRT7) possession of the land where the depot will be built.
The DOTr said works on the depot formally started on Tuesday, November 26.
“After 17 years since the submission of the unsolicited proposal for the project and after nearly two years of court hearings and appeals to obtain a site, the MRT-7’s 20-hectare depot is finally starting to take shape,” DOTr said in a statement.
The Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 92 and 98 issued Writs of Possession in favor of the DOTr and its concessionaire, SMC Mass Rail Transit 7, Inc. (SMRT7), which were then successfully enforced by sheriffs of the courts.
A writ of possession is a document issued by the court after the landlord wins an eviction lawsuit. The writ of possession is served on the tenant by the sheriff.
Joining the two sheriffs in enforcing the Writs were a contingent of Philippine National Police (PNP) and SWAT personnel as well as Transportation Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan and Assistant Secretary for Procurement and Project Implementation and Right-of-Way Acquisition Committee Chairman Giovanni Lopez.
The site of the new depot is located along Quirino Highway in Brgy. Lagro, Quezon City. The DOTr said it was “optimal for right-of-way implementability, asset constructibility, capital expenditure and operational expense efficiency, and operational reliability and maintainability.”
Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade approved the depot site during his inspection on June 29, 2019.
“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,” Tugade said in the statement.
The DOTr said it initially offered to buy the depot site from its owners at current market value, as appraised by a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) accredited independent property appraiser.
However, the property owners, which are largely comprised of a major real estate development company, refused the agency’s offer, forcing the DOTr and SMRT7, with the help of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), to file expropriation cases last Nov. 15.
Writs of Possession in favor of the DOTr and SMRT7 were issued on Nov. 22 and Nov. 25.
MRT-7 is a 22.8-kilometer elevated train line, with 13 stations to run from North Avenue in Quezon City to San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan province.
The P69.3-billion project, once operational, is expected to transport between 300,000 to 850,000 passengers per day. It will be inter-connected with the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1), MRT-3, and the Metro Manila Subway at the Common Station in North Avenue.
The train line is also expected to slash travel time from Bulacan to Quezon City from two to three hours to 35 minutes.
As of October 2019, the DOTr said the MRT-7 project is 49.15%. It is set to begin partial operations in 2021.
The project, which was started under the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III, was initially eyed to be finished this year.
However, its completion was delayed due to right-of-way issues, the DOTr earlier explained.