MRT-3 to operate at reduced capacity as COVID-19 cases in depot rise to 127

Maris Federez   •   July 2, 2020   •   828

MANILA, Philippines — The MRT management will limit the number of trains in operation starting July 6.

This after a number of its personnel tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), bringing the total of positive cases to 127, a Department of Transportation (DOTr) advisory said.

Initial report said the 127 cases consist of 124 Sumitomo Depot personnel and 3 MRT-3 Depot personnel who will be placed under mandatory quarantine and medication.

DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan said that with the guidance of the IATF-EID and upon the advice of Sumitomo-MHI, MRT-3 will be able to continue operations, with the possibility of reducing capacity or with fewer trains.

“Sumitomo requested to discuss on a day-by-day basis the level of operations that they can sustain as results of the mass swab testing continue to be released. In the meantime, Sumitomo advised that they are able to continue with operations to service MRT-3’s tens of thousands of passengers, although at a reduced level,” said Usec Batan.

“While we try to do our best to keep the same maintenance performance through this week, we would like to discuss with DOTr MRT3 office day by day, how much maintenance level we would be able to keep, in view of the number of COVID-19 infected people,” said Masanori Honda of Sumitomo.

The advisory also said that “to augment MRT-3’s further reduced capacity due to the quarantine of some of its depot personnel, DOTr will be boosting its Bus Augmentation Program and EDSA Busway service, in coordination with the DOTr Road Sector, LTFRB, and MMDA.”

“Per guidance of the IATF-EID, additional measures and precautions will be taken during MRT-3’s reduced operations, including requiring full PPE for stations and depot personnel, limiting movement of depot personnel to their immediate areas of responsibility, increased disinfection activities, and heightened monitoring and screening of symptoms among all personnel,” the advisory further read.

Meanwhile, MRT reminds the public that it will suspend operation on July 4 and 5 to give way to their rail replacement activities. —(with details from Joan Nano) /mbmf

MMDA closes Bagong Barrio U-turn slot

Maris Federez   •   January 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will push through with its plan to close the EDSA U-turn slot at General Malvar in Bagong Barrio, Caloocan City on Monday (January 11).

“The U-turn slot located along Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue in General Malvar / Bagong Barrio area shall be closed to vehicular traffic effective January 11, Monday, in line with the Department of Transportation’s EDSA Busway project,” the MMDA said in an advisory released last Friday.

With the closure of the said U-turn slot, motorists from northbound going southbound are advised to take the Monumento Circle or those coming from Quezon City may also take Balintawak Cloverleaf.

Since September 2020, the MMDA has so far closed six U-turn slots to give way to the government’s Busway Project.

For this project, the innermost lane of EDSA was designated as an exclusive lane for public utility buses (PUBs) traveling from Monumento, Caloocan City to SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City, and vice versa. —/mbmf

Duterte names Benhur Abalos as new MMDA chief

Maris Federez   •   January 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Former Mandaluyong City mayor Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. has been named as the new chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), replacing former chair Danilo Lim who passed away last week.

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go made the confirmation on the change in the MMDA leadership in a text message to the press on Sunday (January 10).

Go added that Abalos is expected to take his oath of office on Monday.

Malacañang has yet to make an official confirmation of Abalos’ appointment.

Abalos served as the mayor of Mandaluyong City from 1998 to 2004, and from 2007 to 2016. He also served as representative of Mandaluyong City from 2004 to 2007.

The former Mandaluyong Mayor’s father, Benjamin Sr., also served as MMDA chairman from 2001 to 2002.

The MMDA is mandated to plan, monitor, coordinate, and regulate the delivery of services in Metro Manila. —/mbmf

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MMDA chief Danny Lim dies at 65

Maris Federez   •   January 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Danilo “Danny” Lim passed away on Wednesday after catching coronavirus disease (COVID-19). He was 65.

This was confirmed by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

“MMDA Chair Lim served the Duterte Administration with professionalism, competence and integrity. He would be dearly missed,” Roque said in a statement.

“May the perpetual light shine upon him, and may his soul, through the mercy of the Almighty, rest in eternal peace,” he added.

MMDA Edsa traffic chief Edison “Bong” Nebrija, on his Facebook post, also bid farewell to the agency head.

On December 29, the MMDA chief announced that he tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19). He, however, said that his symptoms were mild and would undergo self isolation.

Before taking the helm of the MMDA in 2017, he was named by former President Benigno Aquino III as the Bureau of Customs Deputy Commissioner. He resigned in July 2013.

In 1989, Lim led the failed coup d’etat against former President Corazon Aquino and was detained for two years until he was granted amnesty by President Fidel V. Ramos who suceeded Aquino.

In 2006, Lim was also accused of plotting the ouster of ex-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

He was also involved in the Manila Peninsula seige in 2007 with other Magdalo soldiers including Antonio Trillanes IV — then a Navy lieutenant.

He was detained from 2006 to 2010 on charges of rebellion and attempted coup d’ etat.

In 2010, Lim also attempted to run for Senator but failed. —/mbmf

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