Local government units (LGUs) must help the national government in the right-of-way (ROW) negotiations for the Mindanao Railway System (MRS) project, an official said.
“Every LGU should take part on the planning (stage of the MRS project) as this is our first time to have a train system; we do not yet know how to plan a railway development,” said Patricia Melliza B. Ruivivar, Department of Transportation deputy project manager for MRS, said.
Ruivivar said LGUs must help in the ROW negotiations as well as in acquiring the properties because they are the ones who are acquainted with their owners.
She said LGU officials are important in the ROW negotiations to prevent overpricing of properties and to stop possible corruption between the owners and government negotiators.
They will also be instrumental in gathering support of the public in ensuring the success of the project.
“We want everyone to be excited and to be supportive of the project,” she added.
Areas where stations will be put up must also come up with their comprehensive development plans by extrapolating the expected economic activities in their areas as a result of the project, she said.
The 102-kilometer stretch of railway will have stations at Tagum City, Carmen, and Panabo City in Davao del Norte; Mudiang, Magtuod and Toril in Davao City; and Sta. Cruz and Digos City in Davao del Sur as these areas are part of the first phase of the project.
Based on the initial timetable of the project, the government will start the acquisition of the properties of the project within the year and that the project will also be awarded within the month as construction is expected to start next year.
The project is expected to be completed in 2021, a year before President Rodrigo Duterte steps down.
As a major component of the project, Ruivivar said there is a need to develop the human resources for the project by ensuring that schools offer special courses in running a train system.
She said the assistance of the city council is needed in developing the educational human resource plan for the train system.