Early prob­lems for the Min­danao Rail­way

Sun.Star Davao - - OPINION -

The Min­danao Rail­way Project (MRP) has got a lot of Min­dana­wons ex­cited es­pe­cially since it is en­vi­sioned to con­nect most cities and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the fu­ture.

For the first phase of the project, it will be a 105-kilo­me­ter (km) Tagum-Davao-Di­gos (MRP-TDD) seg­ment. The De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion (DOTr) said “this is ex­pected to re­duce travel time from Tagum City, Davao del Norte to Di­gos City, Davao del Sur from 3.5 hours to 1.3 hours once it starts op­er­at­ing in 2022.”

The first phase will have eight sta­tions -- Tagum, Car­men, Pan­abo, Mu­di­ang, Davao Ter­mi­nal, To­ril, Sta. Cruz, and Di­gos.

“The Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives has re­cently ear­marked an ini­tial amount of P6.58 bil­lion to jump­start the project. The amount will pri­mar­ily fund the first seg­ment, which will run from Tagum City to Davao City to Di­gos City. The ap­pro­pri­a­tion comes more than a month af­ter the Na­tional Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Author­ity (Neda) ap­proved Phase 1 of MRP, which will cost P35.257 bil­lion via gen­eral ap­pro­pri­a­tions,” DOTr said.

The 105 km Phase 1 of the MRP is part of the 1,530-km rail line that will con­nect Davao, Ili­gan, Ca­gayan de Oro, Gen­eral San­tos, and Zam­boanga City. With bet­ter land con­nec­tiv­ity we can be as­sured that there will be a faster move­ment of peo­ple, goods, and ser­vices through­out the is­land.

How­ever, while the con­struc­tion has not be­gun, there are al­ready some com­plaints and prob­lems that the con­trac­tors and the gov­ern­ment is fac­ing.

Davao City Coun­cilor Danilo Dayanghi­rang said he has re­ceived com­plaints from home­own­ers and busi­ness own­ers in Ca­ban­tian that will be af­fected by the project.

“We are dis­turbed by a num­ber of re­ports from lo­cal home­own­ers and busi­ness own­ers in the ar­eas of align­ment of the MRP,” Dayanghi­rang said.

He said the con­trac­tor of the project is re­port­edly pres­sur­ing barangay and home­own­ers to sign a cer­tifi­cate of no ob­jec­tion so the project can pro­ceed.

Dayanghi­rang pointed out that there was no proper con­sul­ta­tion or align­ment of plans with the city.

“The prob­lem some­times, the other depart­ments do not con­sult us,” he said, un­der­scor­ing that the City Coun­cil should be con­sulted be­cause it is their job to se­cure the wel­fare of its cit­i­zens.

Dayanghi­rang said they are ap­peal­ing to re-ad­just the path of the train.

A ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture project ex­pe­ri­enc­ing prob­lems as early as now is al­ready wor­ri­some. It also raises a num­ber of ques­tions like if there was proper plan­ning be­tween the lo­cal gov­ern­ment units and the na­tional gov­ern­ment? Did they take into con­sid­er­a­tion those who will be af­fected by the con­struc­tion?

Some­how this shows a prob­lem within the gov­ern­ment -- re­gard­less of whose ad­min­is­tra­tion it is -- as to how it can be un­co­or­di­nated in some as­pects. If there was truly proper co­or­di­na­tion on the rail­way project be­tween the pro­po­nent and the lo­cal gov­ern­ment unit, then there would be no prob­lems like this that will arise.

The gov­ern­ment should act quickly in re­solv­ing the prob­lem to en­sure that the project will go as planned. The gov­ern­ment could also set an­other co­or­di­na­tion ef­fort with af­fected lo­cal gov­ern­ment units to en­sure that no prob­lem like this will arise in the fu­ture.

Lastly, the gov­ern­ment should be trans­par­ent as what is hap­pen­ing on the ground for the pub­lic to be fully aware of what is re­ally hap­pen­ing.

To those who are af­fected by the project, forced to sign doc­u­ments with­out their con­sent, or see any­thing anoma­lous speak up and re­port it.

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