MANILA - The launch of the awaited LRT-2 East Extension project has been delayed due to new restrictions set in place to curb COVID-19 transmission in Metro Manila, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said Friday.
The official inauguration of the train project was initially scheduled on April 26, but will now take place on June 23 due to strict implementation of health protocols, such as physical distancing and operational capacity of workforce.
"The schedule adjustment was made following recent developments in the country’s COVID-19 situation despite the project already being substantially complete. Instead of a formal inauguration, an operational trial run will be conducted on 26 April 2021," the DOTr said in a statement.
The change came after the transit line's officials meeting around Holy Week, the DOTr said, when COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, especially in Metro Manila, surged in an alarming rate.
"Moreover, foreign rail experts who are necessary in the final stages of installation, testing, and commissioning works for the project have been unable to report for work or enter the Philippines due to stringent restrictions being enforced," the department noted, citing the two-week lockdown to contain the surge in Metro Manila and nearby provinces from March 29 to April 11.
TJ Batan, DOTr Undersecretary for Railways, said it was unfortunate the project's launch will be delayed but it was understandable since public health and safety should come first.
"Excited po tayo na makitang matatapos na itong long-delayed na proyekto na nagumpisa pa nuong 2012, pero mahalaga din po na lahat tayo ay ligtas, malusog, at higit sa lahat, buhay,” he said.
The LRT-2 East Extension project, which consists of two new additional stations, namely the Marikina Station and the Antipolo Station, is already at 96.51 percent complete as of February 28, the DOTr said.
The department earlier estimated the new stations, which will service commuters from Recto, Manila going to Masinag, Antipolo and back, will cut travel time from Recto to Masinag by just 40 minutes.