In a surprising turn of events, the ambitious Makati Subway System project faces a cloud of uncertainty. The project's proponent, Philippine Infradev Holdings Inc., claimed that the venture had become "no longer feasible" on September 6. The catalyst for this dramatic shift in fortunes was the recent Supreme Court ruling concerning a land dispute between Makati and Taguig.
Philippine Infradev Holdings Inc. said the recent Supreme Court decision on the land dispute between Makati and Taguig has negatively impacted the $3.5-billion (P198.99 billion) project.
“Under the Joint Venture Agreement executed between the Makati City Government and the company, the depot and a few stations of the Makati City subway system will be in the affected areas,” Infradev said in a filing with the Philippine Stock Exchange. “Also, the alignment of the subway will no longer be feasible.”
However, the company said it has written the Makati City Government an “Intent Notice to propose the commencement of discussions in light of the change in law the Supreme Court decision brings.”
The short-lived Makati Subway project
Infradev had submitted a proposal to build the Makati Subway, officially the Makati Public Rail Transport System, in 2018. A public-private partnership (PPP) deal between the company and the City Government of Makati was signed a year later.
The terms of the joint venture involve Makati contributing land it currently owns for the project while Infradev will build, operate, and maintain the line.
According to initial designs, the Makati Subway will have up to 10 air-conditioned island stations all underground, whose entrances are linked to destinations across the city. Key points include the current central business district at the corner of Ayala Avenue and Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue, Circuit City, Makati City Hall, University of Makati, Ospital ng Makati and other new growth areas within the city. The railway can accommodate up to six car trains, with room for over 200 persons per car, and it is expected to service about 700,000 passengers per day.
Transport advocacy network The Passenger Forum (TPF) sought Infradev and the local government unit (LGU) of Makati to solve new issues in relation to the railway project following Infradev’s statement.
“Infradev’s disclosure mentions something about their intent to start discussions with the LGU of Makati in light of the Supreme Court decision to grant some former Makati territories to Taguig City,” TPF Convener Primo Morillo said. “We hope that they will find a workable solution as this is a very important mass transportation project and about 700,000 passengers are expected to ride and benefit from this subway on a daily basis.”
Is there hope for revival?
Morillo suggested involving the local government of Taguig City in the Joint Venture Agreement.
“Commuters are really looking forward to having a subway in the heart of the busiest district in the country,” Morillo said. “If this requires including Taguig into the project, so be it. If this necessitates another JVA with Taguig, Infradev should do it and do it fast.”
Morillo said negotiating with Taguig also “opens the possibility of an expansion deeper into Taguig," especially to Bonifacio Global City.
“Persuading Taguig to be part of this project is a crucial task for Infradev and expanding into BGC may just do the job. In our view, it may even push the daily ridership closer to a million commuters making it more efficient and helpful in our dreams to solve Metro Manila’s transport woes. We appeal to the good mayors of Makati and Taguig to cooperate for the sake of the commuting public and the nation.”
Moreover, the convenor said Infradev should allow the Department of Transportation (DOTr) or the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to take over on the side of the government in case the LGUs will not cooperate.
“This is another way to save the project and it could even make the project better as it can go beyond the boundaries of those two cities,” Morillo said.
This story originally appeared on Esquiremag.ph. Minor edits have been made by the SPOT.ph editors.