Davao biz leader hits implementation of railway project

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 23 Jan) – A business leader criticized the government agencies handling the first Tagum City-Davao City-Digos City (TDD) line of the Mindanao Railway Project for having no clear vision in implementing it, which left several property owners in limbo.

Dr. Maria Lourdes Monteverde, trustee and former president of Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCCII), said during “Wednesday’s Habi at Kape” that it remains unclear to them the compensation package and what portion of their properties would be on the path of the P130-billion TDD line.

Monteverde said the Department of Transportation (DOTr) just called and told them that they would be affected.

“I was hoping, once they will be relocated or displaced, they should be properly compensated, so that they can start all over again, so that they can move on. It should not be one-sided. What is happening is that the government is doing it but the implementing agency is causing the delay,” she said.

Monteverde said the property owners lamented the DOTr did not properly orient them on the acquisition of the road right of way (RROW).

“That’s unfair. There should be proper procedure with timeframes on how soon, so that those who are being affected can also plan their lives,” she said.

She added most of them also complained which government entity they are supposed to negotiate as the City Government of Davao and the Department of the Public and Highways would meddle.

“Does the DOTr have an office here? None. It’s in Manila,” Monteverde said.

The 102-kilometer two-track electricity-run railway project will comprise eight stations, namely: Tagum, Carmen, Panabo, Mudiang (in Bunawan, Davao City), Davao Terminal, Toril, Sta. Cruz, and Digos. A 10-hectare depot will be constructed in Tagum.

The government plans to push through with the groundbreaking of the TDD line next month.

When asked if the government is ready to implement the TDD line, Monteverde said: “Financially and (doing) feasibility study, maybe, they are capable. But the implementing agency and implementers themselves don’t have a clear vision of how it’s going to be done.”

She said they lamented that the negotiation is done in haste.

She urged government to have a proper procedure and a clear timeframe in negotiating for RROW with landowners.

“You cannot blame there is delay in implementing it as implementing agencies don’t know what to do,” Monteverde lamented.

The railway project is a major infrastructure project under the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build,” a flagship massive infrastructure program envisioned to increase the productive capacity of the economy, create jobs, increase incomes, and strengthen the investment climate leading to sustained inclusive growth. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)