Consultants restudying railway alignment in Davao amid objections

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/01 March) – Hong Kong-based consultants are studying possible measures to address the concerns raised by homeowners of an exclusive subdivision in Barangay Ma-a here that making the viaduct of the Mindanao Railway System pass over their residences will inconvenience them, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Assistant Secretary Eymard Eje said on Friday.

Homeowners at Monteritz Classic Estates have earlier appealed to DOTr to consider the impact on them if it pushes through with the latest alignment of the 102-kilometer Tagum City-Davao City-Digos City railway project, the phase 1 of the 1,550-kilometer Mindanao Railway System.

Eje told MindaNews in an interview that experts from Ove Arup & Partners Hong Kong LTD are looking at what they can do to address these concerns.

Phase 1 would have eight stations, namely: Tagum City, Carmen and Panabo in Davao del Norte; Mudiang in Bunawan, Davao Terminal and Toril in Davao City; and Sta. Cruz and Digos City in Davao del Sur. It will cost P97.386 billion.

Eje said the result will be presented to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, and they will meet again with homeowners to give a feedback on their concerns.

Jesito V. Villamor, Monteritz Classic Estates Homeowners Association Inc. president said in a text message that they are glad that the DOTr and its consultants are heeding their call for a restudy.

He called the move a “glimmer of hope” after Eje last week declared the agency will stick to the latest alignment, the fifth option.

In restudying the alignment, he said he hopes the consultants will be “humane enough to put their feet into the shoes of the homeowners while reevaluating the options and will finally make the best conclusion of aligning the railway away from our lovely subdivision.”

Addressing the people who criticize their objection to the alignment, Villamor said: “If you were in our shoes, if it was your property that will be run over by the railway given that there are other some more viable options, wouldn’t you cry as much as we have cried?”

According to DOTr, the railway’s first segment will reduce travel time from Tagum City to Digos City from 3.5 hours to 1.3 hours once it starts operating in 2022.

It added the rail line will be built with a single track, with provisions for future tracks and electrification. It will have six five-car passenger trains with three spare cars, four locomotives and 15 freight cars.

Upon project completion, the DOTr expects the daily ridership of the Tagum-Davao-Digos segment to increase to 134,060 by 2022.

The DOTr projects the daily ridership to further increase to 237,023 by 2032 and 375,134 by 2042. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)

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