Listed conglomerate San Miguel Corporation (SMC) Group., which has significant portfolio in the infrastructure sector, is ready to start this year the construction of two big-ticket Public-Private Partnership (PPP)Projects namely, the P69.3-billion Metro Railway Transit Line (MRT-7) and the P24.4- billion Bulacan Bulk Water Supply.

Alec Cruz, head of tollway project of San Miguel Holdings, said SMC intends to continuously support the government’s plan to improve the country’s infrastructure sector, which is far behind other countries in the world.

As part of the effort, he said the company was already able to get the ball rolling for MRT-7 and Bulacan Bulk Water and that it is “ready to start” the construction of these two major PPP projects this year.

“This [MRT-7] has been in the plate since 2008. And now we are about to start this. We recently got the approvals and the budget for the project. We also have the contractor already,” Cruz told reporters during the 2016 Business Journalism Seminar presented by San Miguel Corp. in partnership with Economic Journalist Association of the Philippines over the weekend.

“We intend to start the actual construction within the year. As of now, we are facing ROW [Right-of-Way] issues but since we’ve already faced something like this before, the government must have already been able to adjust to this,” he added.

MRT-7 will increase the passenger capacity of MRT from 525,000 capacity to 850,000.

Early last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SMC) has approved the incorporation of SMC Mass Rail Transit 7, Inc. (SMC MRT 7), the new subsidiary of SMC that is set to hold its interest in the MRT-7 project.

The SEC also allowed SMC MRT 7 to have an authorized capital stock of P10 billion.

It was reported in February that Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is yet to give its go signal as to when the SMC Group can start the project, which will connect Quezon City to San Jose, Bulacan.

During that time, the issue that was raised by Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya is the availability of data specifying all the strategic investors involved in the concession agreement.

Abaya, in previous report, was quoted as saying that this is something that should be submitted by the SMC Group.

Hyundai Rotem-EEI consortium, which is the contractor tapped for the project, had earlier proposed to start the construction by February and targeted to complete it in 2019.

The MRT-7 project was awarded to SMC, through its unit Universal LRT Corp. BVI Ltd. (ULC), during the past administration but it has faced major delays when the present government took over.

17 April 2016
By Madelaine B. Miraflor