DOTC passes maintenance blame to MRT owner

Posted at 08/15/14 5:00 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is disputing claims made by the Metro Rail Transit Holdings II that the Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC) has not been allowed to check the safety of the rail system.

The DOTC said MRTC was given approval to conduct a technical audit in June 2014.

“MRT-3 improvements should have been done many years ago. We have been exercising political will to implement these upgrades which MRT Holdings II failed to deliver over the past decade, since the riding public deserves better,” Transportation Sec. Jun Abaya said.

Abaya said it is MRT Holdings II, not the government, that is blocking efforts to improve the 15-year-old MRT system.

“Together with the Department of Finance, we are also speeding up the buyout of MRTC so that MRT Holdings II can no longer block government’s improvement efforts. This will free the rail facility up from long-standing legal issues and allow the DOTC to upgrade the rail line without disruptions caused by MRT Holdings II,” he said.

MRT Holdings II, which owns MRT, is the private firm that sued the DOTC over the purchase of 48 brand new light rail vehicles (LRVs) from a bidder.

The DOTC won the case and is now pursuing the purchase of the new coaches, which will be delivered in tranches from August 2015 until 2017.

MRT probe to end Tuesday

The DOTC is expecting its fact-finding committee to submit its findings on the MRT-3 accident, which led to the injuries of more than 30 people, by Tuesday.

The DOTC said it is still looking into the MRT’s “blackbox-like” device, video footage and testimonies of train drivers, passengers, and bystanders.

“We expect the committee to submit its findings on August 19. In the meantime, we cannot speculate on the events that led to the unfortunate incident. We find it more prudent to await the results of the investigation instead of forming a mere opinion on whether it was a human error or a technical malfunction,” said Transportation Sec. Jun Abaya.

The investigating committee is led by Transportation Usec. for Operations Edwin Lopez, with members from the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) and the Office for Transportation Security (OTS).