DOTr: Gov't to take over MRT maintenance

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 6) — The government has taken over the maintenance of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3, after it terminated the contract of Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI) on Monday.

Transport authorities vowed they could provide a safer and more reliable train service for long-suffering MRT-3 commuters. However, BURI warned that passengers could suffer even more with the government ill-prepared for the job it took over effective immediately.

"It cannot be overemphasized that what is at stake here is the welfare and interest of the rising public," Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade said in a statement.

As of November 6, 2 p.m., the MRT has had a total of 439 system glitches in this year.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said it will announce as early as 5 a.m. every day how many trains to expect, and when a glitch happens, which stations will be operational.

"Don't expect a miracle, but expect accountability," said Transportation Undersecretary on Rails Cesar Chavez.

BURI said, however, the fact that the government has no people of its own goes to show they're not prepared to do the job.

The government will then absorb BURI personnel to keep working on the trains, with MRT Director for Operations Michael Capati leading the transition team.

Termination of contract

The DOTr in a statement said BURI failed to address the issues it raised against the maintenance provider.

The agency said it gave BURI the notice to terminate its contract in October for poor performance based on four reasons:

  • Failure to put in service and ensure the availability of trains
  • Failure to put in operation reliable and efficient trains
  • Failure to implement a feasible procurement plan for spare parts, affecting its ability to do immediate repairs on defective trains and other facilities of the MRT
  • Failure to comply with the contractual requirements of a complete and up-to-date Computerized Maintenance Management System

Officials claimed BURI repeatedly fell below the performance requirements stated in its contract, such as the number of trains it should keep running during peak hours and the length of time of its service interruptions.



BURI was also required to overhaul 43 existing MRT coaches, with 26 of them already due as of Monday. Chavez said only two coaches have been delivered so far.

The notice was the latest in a long-running dispute between the government and Busan.

The DOTr claims one of the causes of the MRT's numerous glitches in the past months, affecting thousands of commuters, was due to Busan's alleged failure to purchase enough spare parts for the trains.

For its part, BURI, whose three-year maintenance contract with the DOTr expires in January 2019, said the government had no one else to blame but itself.

It claimed that MRT's glitches were due to the train's old rails, which were the responsibility of the Transport department to overhaul.



"When we entered the contract, they committed to us that any problems because of the rails would not be taken against us. We were given specific and explicit stipulations," BURI external counsel Maricris Pahate said in a press briefing.



She explained that BURI had purchased new equipment for the trains but they kept breaking down because of the excessive vibration from the faulty rail tracks.

 

The company, which did not supply the trains, said it has submitted evidence to the government about these.

The MRT traverses six cities from Pasay in the south to Caloocan in the north and serves half a million people each day. It runs only 20 three-coach trains at most during peak hours due to power constraints.

The DOTr said possible replacements to BURI are Singapore MRT, Japan's Sumitomo, which was the MRT's former contractor, and French firm RATP, which also works on the Light Rail Transit Line 1.

CNN Philippines' correspondent Claire Jiao contributed to this report.