DOTC pursues MRT upgrade

Posted at 08/20/14 6:13 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Days after the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) concluded that the recent accident at the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) was caused by human error, the agency said it is now pursuing measures to upgrade the mass transit system.

Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya said system upgrades for the train’s power and signaling mechanisms are underway as it bids out a P836.5 million contract to upgrade MRT-3’s ancillary systems.

“We are procuring the upgrade of the signaling system because it is old and we are upgrading the power system as well,” he said.

Abaya added that the train’s railway system will be replaced while existing trains will be overhauled.

“We are in the end of the 8-year cycle of overhauling trains. However, not all trains will be overhauled. We are still trying to reach out with the DBM [Department of Budget and Management] to increase the budget to address this as well,” he said.

Representatives of Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock of China have presented new train designs being procured for the MRT system to the DOTC.

Dalian Locomotive was awarded a P3.8 billion contract for the acquisition of 48 brand new trains for MRT last January.

Abaya said the one-year contract of MRT maintenance provider APT Global, which will expire on September 5, will likely be extended as the terms of reference for the bidding of a longer three-year contract is still being finalized.

“It might be tough. I don’t think we could award before September 5 so the contract of APT will be extended because we have no choice kami,” he said.

Calls for Abaya to resign were raised following the MRT accident, which resulted to the injuries of more than 30 people, and the transportation chief stressed that he will immediately resign once the President losses trust in him.

“I can go anytime, I have a family to take care of, I have kids to raise. It is a privilege for me to work in government. In fact, I encourage kids to work in government because it is a good time to serve in government under President Aquino, I wouldn’t have lasted long under other presidency. But again I am just a text away and I could go,” he said.

MRT Holdings, meanwhile, has called on the DOTC to also investigate the train’s maintenance provider, saying not all incidents can be attributed to human error.

“It cannot be that three times a week, there is a case of human error. The question that should have been answered was: why did the train stall? Why was there a lapse in the maintenance in the system that opened it up to human error? This should never happen if there is proper maintenance," MRTH spokesman Atty. David Narvasa said.

Representatives of MRT Hong Kong are scheduled to arrive Monday to conduct a safety audit on the MRT.