Quezon City gov’t lifts cease and desist order on MRT-7 above-ground construction

Robie de Guzman

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte on Friday announced that the cease and desist order against the above-ground construction of Metro Rail Transit line 7 (MRT-7) at the Quezon Memorial Circle has been lifted.

Belmonte made the announcement after meeting with representatives from concerned government offices and stakeholders and approving the new structure design presented by the contractor EEI and developer San Miguel Corporation (SMC).

“Ni-lift na po ng city government ang cease and desist order ngayon dahil natuwa naman po kami na binigyang-halaga ang aming concerns,” she said in a statement.

During the meeting, the EEI and SMC showed a revised design wherein the area of the above-ground construction was dramatically reduced to 426 square meters from almost 11,000 square meters and the height to just six meters from 12 meters.

The above-ground structure is proposed to be only a utility room.

“We thank EEI and SMC for taking into consideration the concerns of the people of Quezon City, who consider the park and the pylon the most important landmarks of the city, by taking steps to adjust the design and reduce the height of the station thereby preserving the park’s integrity. This is truly a win-win solution,” Belmonte said.

“I would also like to express gratitude to the stakeholders for their active participation in preserving the park,” she added.

Belmonte on February 18 issued the order after learning that the design of the station exceeded the agreed-upon area by almost six times, and would affect the national heritage park.

With the adjustment in the MRT-7 project structure, Belmonte said it would no longer obstruct the view to the pylon, which mainly features the 66-meter tall mausoleum housing the remains of President Manuel L. Quezon.

“Mapapanatili natin ang view ng pylon. Wala na pong obstructions ngayon sa libingan ni Pangulong Manuel Luis Quezon. Bukod diyan, malaki ang open space para sa mamamayan ng lungsod Quezon dahil walang mall,” Belmonte said.

From the initial design of 11,000 square meters above ground, it has been agreed that the latest and final design will just be a 426-square meter (sqm) above-ground structure, with a height of only 6 to 7 meters.

Meanwhile, Transportation Undersecretary for Railways TJ Batan expressed his utmost appreciation for the swift settlement of the issue.

He likewise assured that the MRT-7 construction is on track, with partial operability to commence by 2021, and full revenue service by 2022.

“Currently, almost 55% complete na tayo. Lahat ng mga tren, lahat ng mga bagon, tapos na. Na-test at ready na i-ship from [South] Korea. Makikita natin na yung mga viaducts ay halos patapos na rin at ang stations ay tinatapos na. ‘Yung depot natin na tinatawag ay nasolusyunan na rin, kung kaya’t on track tayo dun sa commitment ng DOTr, ni Secretary [Arthur] Tugade, galing sa ating concessionaire na maging partially operable by 2021,” Batan said in a statement.

Once completed by 2022, the MRT-7 is expected to cut travel time from Manila to Bulacan from 2 hours to just 34 minutes.

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