LRT rehab hits snag

Audit demands explanation from DOTC, LRTA

THE P1.314-billion allocation from the illegal Disbursement Acceleration Program for the repair and maintenance of Light Rail Transit 1 and 2 was released in full but not used in the Aquino administration’s “stimulus program,” the Commission on Audit said in a report.

“Despite the full release of the P1.314 billion Stimulus Fund in January 2014, the projects lined up for the rehabilitation of LRTA Lines 1 and 2 have not been implemented due to several project revisions, thus defeating the purpose of the grant of the Stimulus Fund, which was to accelerate economic growth, and also delaying the delivery of an improved railway services to the riding public,” the COA report, dated June 5, 2015 showed.

The 87-page COA report, a copy of which was furnished The Standard, was signed by COA Supervising Auditor Mayola Paredes-Salita.

The COA also questioned the propriety of the decision of the Department of Transportation and Communications to engage in the procurement and bidding of the equipment needed for the repair, instead of the LRTA, the implementing agency.

ROLLING SARDINES. Passengers dash inside  an LRT coach during rush hours  because of the lack of serviceable coaches despite reports from the Commission on Audit that said that  P1.3 billion from the Disbursement Acceleration  Program had already been allocated for the repair and maintenance of the Light Rail Transit lines 1 and 2 but were not used by the Aquino administration.
The COA also required the DOTC and LRTA to explain the cause of delays in the multi-year projects of LRTA for System Lines 1 and 2, which underwent several revisions.

“The Project Status Report as of March 31, 2015 showed that most of the projects were only in the process of preparation of the Terms of Reference,” Salita said.

Salita attributed the delay to the numerous changes/revisions on the projects to be undertaken delayed the scheduled rehabilitation of Lines 1 and 2.

“After more than a year since the fund was released, there was not a single significant accomplishment involving rehabilitation of System Lines 1 and 2,” Salita pointed out.

The original rehabilitation and repair projects were the rail replacement at LRT 1 and systematic replacement of Gantry Anchor Bolts at 1 Revenue Line and connecting line.

“The purpose of the grant of the Stimulus Fund was defeated and there was delay in providing the riding public with efficient railway service. The opportunity to address promptly the commuters’ complaints made known in daily news from radio, TV and newspapers was overlooked or lost,” Salita said.

“With the fund already made available for more than a year, we found no more significant reasons to further hinder the implementation of the projects,” she said.

The COA also questioned the DOTC’s decision to allow the winning bidder not to conform to the requirements such as the submission of pertinent documents.

Salita said the COA recommended to the LRTA management to immediately implement the planned rehabilitation projects for the improvement of facilities and services.

“Management had not submitted their written comments, however, during the exit conference on June 1, 2015, they explained that the changes in the line-up of rehabilitation projects for LRTA Lines 1 and 2 were due to the prioritization of projects. They justified that they have to prioritize projects based on the validity of the subsidy they received. They also informed that those changes were properly communicated with the DBM and approved by the LRTA Board of Directors,” Salita said.

“As our rejoinder, the projects originally lined up which were the basis of the DBM in approving the grant of the Stimulus Fund should have been carefully planned and studied,” Salita said.

The frequent changes of the projects for implementation just to accommodate which subsidy will be utilized constitute realignment of funds requiring the approval of the Department of Budget and Management, she said.

“These actions resulted in the non-implementation of the original projects lined up for rehabilitation of Lines 1 and 2 when the requested funding was already approved by the DBM and needed to provide the riding public efficient railway transport system,” Salita said.

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