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No truth in subway realignment

Indeed, there is no stopping the realization of the Metro Manila Subway Project.

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A year since its groundbreaking, the country’s first underground rail system — the Metro Manila Subway — is fast catching the public’s attention.

Questions remain on its viability and when it will really start operations as the government has started actual works and started the “Project of the Century” on the road to reality.

In December 2019, clearing operations at the Valenzuela depot were carried out to formally signify the start of the subway’s construction — a clear manifestation that the railway project is on the works.

Indeed, there is no stopping the realization of the Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP).

Sadly, no matter how promising it may be, the Metro subway project again turned headline fodder in the past weeks as several erroneous reports have generated much misinformation on the actual status of its progress.

One newspaper columnist, in particular, claimed that there was a realignment of the subway. Such misinformation fueled public perception that the project might get sidetracked and delayed.

This prompted Department of Transportation (DoTr) Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan to immediately belie these reports and clear the air.

At a press conference, Undersecretary Batan was clear: There is no truth to the allegation that the subway will be realigned. In fact, the Undersecretary said the present alignment of the subway project had been decided way back December 2016.

Usec. Batan added that the very same subway alignment, which is now being questioned by the misinformed newspaper columnist, is the same alignment that was developed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Design Team (JDT) in 2016; endorsed by the DoTr in December 2016; approved by the subway’s Inter-Agency Steering Committee in June 2017, which is composed of the DoTr, Departments of Public Works and Highways, Finance and Budget and Management, Bases and Conversion Development Authority and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.

The MMSP will have a total of 15 stations, including one at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.

The DoTr broke ground for the first three stations, Quirino Highway, Tandang Sora and North Avenue, in February 2019.

In addition, the subway alignment that was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority Board was also the one endorsed by the Metro Manila Council, a policy-making body which is composed of all the local government units in Metro Manila. This also clears the air on another misleading report that the Quezon City government has stopped the issuance of permits for the construction of the subway project.

In an act of expressing solidarity with the national government, no less than Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte herself has made it clear that their Executive department has no problems with the MMSP.

In a statement, Mayor Belmonte said they have even formed a task force to work with the various local and national agencies to put in place mitigating measures to lessen the inconvenience the subway’s construction may cause commuters.

The Quezon City government’s task force complements the initiative of DoTr Secretary Arthur P. Tugade in making courtesy visits to the various Metro LGU to foster better coordination and cooperation between the national and local governments on the project.

It is the DoTr’s way of reaching out to all stakeholders to carry out transportation projects in a fast and effective manner.

This is how the DoTr works. And this is the assurance that before any project is laid out, proper coordination and close cooperation among different stakeholders are established prior to the actual works to assure smooth implementation.

A testament to the unstoppable realization of the MMSP is the unveiling of the subway’s Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) parts yesterday, 24 February 2020, in the sidelines of the DoTr’s Transportalks.

During the event, the media got a first look at the TBM’s major parts, including its shield jack, cutter reduction gear motor, main bearings and articulation jack. TBM are used to dig underground and lay the tunnels, as an integral part of building the subway. They can excavate through a variety of ground conditions, from hard rock to sand.

With this development, indeed, we can say that there is no stopping the Metro Manila Subway Project.

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