The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is reconsidering the requests of residents who would be affected by Mindanao Railway Project (MRP) – Tagum City-Davao City-Digos City (TDD)
But pending the decision of DOTr Sec. Arthur Tugade, the DOTr will maintain the present alignment.
During the committee hearing for the MRP and JICA Bypass Road Project yesterday, homeowners of Monteritz Classic Estates along Carlos P. Garcia Highway in Barangay Ma-a and South Pacific Golf and Residential Estates along Libby Road, Barangay Catalunan Pequeno insisted for another path realignment for the proposed railway project.
Homeowners of the posh Monteritz Classic Estates complained that the current MRP-TDD alignment will hit Phase 1 of the village and will affect about 40 households.
“When we had a meeting with DOTr (few) weeks ago, we were so surprised that the new alignment will now pass through Phase 1. In the initial proposal that we saw, it was actually outside Monteritz,” a resident said.
Bryan Tu, a member of the school board of the Davao Christian High School, also complained that the railway will pass through the proposed site for their college buildings that they have been planned long time ago.
The residents pushed to realign the railway path at the Diversion Road because it is more cost efficient because it is already a public property. The land acquisition for the affected Monteritz property alone already cost the government P774 million.
DOTr Assistant Secretary Eymard Eje said they will present the proposal to Sec. Tugade for reconsideration.
But pending Tugade’s feedback, the DOTr will maintain the present alignment, Eje said.
“We will consider (the proposals),” he said. “We will look into the possibilities of how to at least address their concerns.”
“Due to the issues that they raised, we will consider but not totally deviate from our latest alignment,” Eje said adding that the current alignment has “the least impact to all those who will be affected.”
Despite the on-going negotiations with the residents, Eje said they are hopeful that the National Economic Development Authority-Investment Coordination Committee (NEDA-ICC) will approve the MRP before the end of February.
The project needs approval of the NEDA ICC due to the change in scope and cost of the project after DOTr changed it to two-track electricity-run railway instead of one-track and diesel-run locomotive.
“We are tentatively scheduled before the end of February before the NEDA ICC. We hope we can get the NEDA approval. The length of the project will be counted from the time that the NEDA approves the project. We are expecting a completion of less than three years from the time of the NEDA approval,” Eje said.
Eje also said that this project must be started and done before the term of President Rodrigo Duterte “because this is the only chance that we have a president who loves Mindanao.”
“Otherwise, if not started within the time of the president, we will lose our chances having a better transportation here,” he added.