MANILA, JULY 5, 2007 (STAR) By Paolo Romero Thursday, July 5, 2007 President Arroyo is becoming impatient over the status of the P6-billion LRT-1 to MRT-3 linkage project.

Sources said Mrs. Arroyo had expressed dismay over the apparent delays in the construction of the link in Metro Manila’s railway system.

“Where’s my loop?” she reportedly demanded.

Sources said she ordered Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Bayani Fernando and Presidential Management Staff chief Cerge Remonde on Tuesday to ensure the project’s completion by 2010.

The sources added that Mrs. Arroyo wants the bidding for the project to be conducted as soon as possible.

The directive reportedly triggered bickering among the three officials, particularly between Fernando and Mendoza, as to who should be on top of the project. Remonde is also head of the Palace’s Infrastructure Monitoring Task Force.

“They (officials) do not seem to get along very well, especially now with the President’s order,” the source said. Remonde however, denied that there are delays in the construction caused by infighting.

He said the Department of Budget and Management has already released P317 million to fund the feasibility study awarded to Metrolink Joint Venture last May 28. The cost of the feasibility study includes the preparation of bid documents for civil works and construction supervision.

The study is expected to be completed by the end of the month and will be submitted to the National Economic and Development Authority.

Remonde said the bidding for the design and the civil works is expected to start in September.

Mendoza earlier told reporters in Malacañang that rail projects worth $6 billion in Luzon, including the MRT-LRT loop, are expected to be completed by 2010.

The linking of the Monumento Station of LRT-1 to the North Edsa Station of MRT-3 is one of the major programs presented by Mrs. Arroyo during her State of the Nation Address in July last year.

She said the project aims to make travel around Metro Manila faster and cheaper. It entails the construction of three additional stations stretching 5.2 kilometers.

The other major transportation projects are the North Rail Phase 1 Section 1 and Section 2; the South Manila Commuter Railway Phase 1 and 2; and the LRT Line 1 Southern Extension.

The 32.2-kilometer North Rail Section 1 project runs from Caloocan to Malolos, Bulacan and costs $503 million funded by a grant from China. It is expected to be finished by 2008.

Section 2 of the project costs $622.59 million and runs 44 kilometers on a double-track railway including viaducts and long-span bridges from Calumpit, Bulacan to Clark.

The first phase of the Korea-funded South Manila Commuter Railway Project costs $50.42 million and runs 34 kilometers from Caloocan to Alabang. It is scheduled to be completed in 2008.

The second phase, to be completed in 2009, runs 27 kilometers from Alabang to Calamba, Laguna and costs $80.23 million.

Meanwhile, the $683 million LRT Line 1 Southern Extension Project is expected to be finished by 2010. It runs 11.7 kilometers from Monumento to Sucat in Parañaque. Funds for this project come from official development assistance.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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