Saturday, September 6, 2014
Contract of MRT Maintenance Service Provider Extended at Php 57 Million per Month
Despite the successive glitches in the Metro Rail Transit line 3 (MRT 3), the government has extended the contract of the current maintenance service provider.
Lawyer Michael Sagcal, Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) spokesman, announced the extension of the contract of Global-Autre Porte Technique, Inc. (Global APT) yesterday on the same day that the MRT 3 suffered another glitch.
Passengers of the southbound MRT 3 train had to be unloaded at the Kamuning Station in Quezon City after it can’t move due to “startup interlock.”
Only last Tuesday, another MRT 3 train had to stop when it was found out that it was running with some doors open.
The worst accident that MRT 3 suffered was last month when one of its trains overshot the Pasay City terminal.
“The term of Global-APT’s extended services is on a month-to-month basis. It may be terminated at the DOTC’s option anytime after two weeks from September 4. The rate is P57 million per month,” Sagcal explained.
Sagcal added that the DOTC’s bidding of the new three-year maintenance contract for MRT 3 will continue despite the suggestion of the MRT Holdings (MRTH) to extend the contract period from one to 10 years.
MRTH, which owns 100 percent of MRT Corp. (MRTC), which in turn owns the MRT 3 system, earlier said it prefers to get a 10-year contractor, stressing that maintenance of trains requires longer period. MRTH spokesperson Atty. David Narvasa also said they urged DOTC to wait for the audit findings of rail experts from Hong Kong to ascertain the true state of the MRT 3 system before bidding out the maintenance contract.
The MRTH’s suggestions apparently fell on deaf ears as the DOTC commenced the bidding for the P2.2-billion MRT 3 maintenance contract. However, Sagcal maintained that the DOTC Bids and Awards Committee has adopted the suggestions of the MRTC.
“Our co-party and owner of the MRT 3 facilities, MRTC, provided their comments on the terms of reference. Most, if not all, of their suggestions were adopted by our BAC,” he pointed out.
Despite MRTH’s ownership of MRTC, Sagcal stressed out that MRTH has no personality in the MRT 3’s operations and improvement.
“MRTH has no personality in the rail line’s operation and improvement,” he argued. “If their reasoning is correct (that MRTH and MRTC are the same entity), then we can also sue MRTH if we sue MRTC. Then we would also be able to sue MRTH’s shareholders, since they own MRTH.”
For the commuters’ part, Elvira Medina of the National Center for Commuter Safety and Protection (NCCSP) is planning to sue Global APT for its performance in maintaining the MRT 3 system.
“Our lawyers and I will work on it this weekend,” was all that Medina said when asked what charges the NCCSP plans to file against Global APT.
Victorino Espiritu of Global APT appealed for commuters’ understanding, stressing that the 15-year-old MRT 3 system is prone to glitches given its aging equipments and rolling stock. Espiritu said that Global APT will also join the bidding for the new MRT 3 maintenance contract.
The MRT 3 runs the length of Epifanio delos Santos Avenue, from Taft Avenue in Pasay City to North Avenue in Quezon City. The 15-year-old elevated rail line is designed to carry 350,000 passengers but average daily ridership hits 540,000 as of recent government data.
The government plans to buyout the private stake at MRTC and to eventually privatize the operation and maintenance of the MRT 3 system, which consequently prevents the DOTC from bidding out a longer maintenance contract.
Meanwhile, newly installed MRT officer-in-charge Renato San Jose said maintenance personnel have been deployed in every train to provide immediate response to technical glitches and avoid longer service interruption during train breakdowns.
San Jose, formerly MRT 3 director for operations, said he had asked Global APT to deploy some of its maintenance personnel to accompany train operators throughout the line’s operating hours and provide immediate assistance during train breakdowns.
“The more trains without glitch that we deploy means the more passengers we can carry and therefore, the lesser queuing time for our passengers,” San Jose said.
San Jose admitted that it takes passengers at least 30 to 40 minutes to line up to get their tickets, pass through security checks, pass through the ticket turnstiles, queue up at the station platform and eventually ride the MRT 3 to their destinations.
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