Consumer groups have called for an investigation into the P18-billion MRT 3 maintenance contract of the government with Japanese maintenance provider Sumitomo Corp.
RJ Javellana of the United Filipino Consumers and Commuters demanded that the Department of Transportation must disclose the details of the five-year rehabilitation project for MRT 3.
“Aside from it being prohibitive, taxpayers and the riding public’s money are being spent on an undertaking that is not supposed to be shouldered by government as the private consortium who built the MRT 3 System should be the one to take charge and undertake the rehabilitation as stipulated in the BLT agreement forged between government and the Sobrepeña-led group,” Javellana said.
On Nov. 8, 2018, the Philippines and the Japan International Cooperation Agency signed the P18-billion loan agreement for the rehabilitation of MRT 3.
Under the MRT 3 Rehabilitation Project, Sumitomo-MHI will undertake the following: Overhaul all 72 Light Rail Vehicles of the MRT 3; replace all mainline tracks; rehabilitate power and overhead catenary systems; upgrade the signaling system, communications and CCTV systems, and repair all of MRT 3’s escalators and elevators, among other system repairs and improvements.
The project will last for 43 months, with rehabilitation works slated for completion within the first 26 months.
Sammy Malunes, lead convenor and spokesperson of Riles Network, said hundreds of thousands of passengers’ lives and general safety are being put at risk every time they take the MRT Line 3 along EDSA following their discovery that safety nets of the rail system had been suspended since April of last year.
As a consequence, Malunes said, the safety of the riding public is undermined as the train operators and drivers will be forced to continue with the trip in spite of the risks involved until such time they were able to bring the trains back to the depot for repair.
“MRT 3 is indeed a rolling coffin. Do we have to wait for a major disaster before we all act on this foolishness by MRT and transport officials,” Malunes stressed.
He urged the DOTr to reveal the truth as he pressed for the immediate probe of all transport officials involved including DOTr Secretary, Arthur Tugade.
Malunes also called on Tugade to resign as DOTr chief.
Herman Tiu Laurel, Riles Network co-convenor, said that a Commission on Audit report reveals that DOTr and MRT 3 management miserably failed in managing and operating the lone railway transport system plying the EDSA.
He cited COA’s findings about the “massive drop in terms of passenger ridership and ticket sales during the 2018 period with only an average of 13 out of 24 train sets plying on the rail tracks, thereby heightening the discomfort of the riding public.”
COA’s report said that train availability on MRT 3 went down to 13 in 2018 from 18 in 2017 and 16 in 2016.
The agency said revenue collections from ticket sales subsequently dropped 26 percent to P2.068 billion in 2018 from P2.779 in 2017.