Wasted time

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THE construction of the common train station for the MRT 7, MRT 3 and LRT 1 between the SM City North Edsa and Trinoma shopping malls in Quezon City, as well as the construction of the MRT 7 railway stretching up to SM City Tungko in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, are ongoing. Both projects started last year and are expected to be completed next year.

With construction duration for the common station supposed to be at 2.5 years and the groundbreaking was actually done in July 2014, it should have been completed last year and giving Metro Manila commuters great convenience and faster train transfers. But the Supreme Court stopped the construction the following month at the petition of SM Prime Holdings.

SM already got approval from the then DOTC to locate the station near its mall after paying the agency P200 million for the naming rights to the station. But former DOTC Sec. Joseph Abaya changed the site to that near Trinoma mall of the Ayala Group prompting SM to sue.

DOTr Sec. Arthur Tugade helped settle the issue by locating the station between the two rival malls and construction started last September.

The SM-DOTC/Ayala Group case and dispute over location deprived the public of benefits for 2.5 years, the lost time that should have been spent on finishing the station. Such thing should not have happened if the stakeholders compromised earlier to settle the impasse.

The lesson from the delayed common train station project and public service could have guided the Department of Information and Communication Technology, National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) and National Transmission Corp. (Transco) into uniting and signing an agreement on Friday to use Transco’s fiber optic cable network for the DICT’s National Broadband Program, which will provide Internet service to all government offices and remote rural villages nationwide.

Months before the signing, the NGCP and Transco were actually feuding over the use of the latter’s communication line between power plants and distributors. Transco wanted a share in the NGCP’s profits from leasing its fiber optic cable network to telecommunication service providers Globe and Smart. A protracted dispute could have turned into a courtroom battle.

The Transco’s Internet network has been there, put up by its predecessor, the National Power Corporation, since the privatization of power plants in the 2000s. The cable could have already been used since then and could have hastened the development of the country’s e-commerce and Internet-based industries side by side with that of developed countries.

Fortunately, NGCP and Transco saw the adverse effect of another delayed public service. Filipinos can look forward to a better, faster and cheaper connectivity.

p/jhd

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