MANILA, November 29, 2017 — Metro Manila residents know the problems that have been plaguing the MRT-3, but what is the Department of Transportation (DOTr) doing to solve them?
According to the DOTr, it is undertaking a “Four-Point Strategy” to 1) promote accountability, 2) ensure continued delivery of services, 3) contract a qualified maintenance service provider, and 4) put in place a long-term, single-point-of-responsibility operator and maintenance provider.
Let’s take a look at how the DOTr breaks it down.
Point 1: Promoting Accountability
Last November 6, DOTr terminated the maintenance service contract of Busan Universal Rail, Inc. (BURI) due to, among others, BURI’s non-performance of its obligations under the contract.
BURI failed to perform its maintenance obligations, both due to its inability to meet the performance indicators in the contract (e.g. number of trains running) and its failure to procure spare parts.”
BURI also failed to perform its obligation to overhaul MRT-3’s train cars, pursuant to a schedule that was proposed by BURI itself. As of 21 November 2017, only 2 out of 43 train cars have been overhauled by BURI.
These failures led to the many passenger unloading and train removal incidents during the 22 months that BURI was maintaining MRT-3.
BURI’s termination is intended to promote accountability, and to ensure that taxpayers’ money (PhP54 million a month for maintenance and PhP907 million for the overhaul) is not spent on a non-performing service provider.
Point 2: Continued Service Delivery
The DOTr prepared for the take over of the maintenance of MRT-3 by creating a Maintenance Transition Team (MTT), which will maintain the system for 3-6 months while procuring a new and qualified maintenance service provider.
The MTT ensured that it has the necessary human resources, by directly hiring more than 450 former BURI employees. After months of delayed and partial salaries, the MTT has paid the direct hires their salaries in full and on time, which has boosted their morale.
The LRTA and PNR have also thrown in their support to the MTT, by sharing highly qualified and experienced railway engineers to the MTT.
The condition of MRT-3’s spare parts inventory at take over further demonstrated BURI’s failure to purchase and maintain a sufficient level of spare parts. To address this, the DOTr created a special Bids and Award Committee (BAC), which, together with the MTT, is regularly convening to expeditiously procure the spare parts that BURI failed to purchase.
Point 3: Maintenance and Rehabilitation Service Provider
High-level discussions with the Government of Japan are ongoing to pave the way for DOTr’s direct engagement of Sumitomo Corporation and its technical partner Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, under a Government to Government (G2G) Official Development Assistance (ODA) platform. A G2G agreement is scheduled to be signed before year-end.
Sumitomo and Mitsubishi Heavy designed, built, and maintained the MRT-3 in its first 12 years of operations.
The maintenance and rehabilitation contract is intended to have a term of 3 years, and will include the rehabilitation and restoration of the system to its original performance standards.
Point 4: Long-Term, Single-Point-of-Responsibility, O&M Provider
Many of MRT-3’s problems in recent years resulted from successive short-term and fragmented maintenance contracts, and from finger-pointing due to having different entities maintaining and operating MRT-3.
DOTr is addressing this by pursuing an Unsolicited Proposal for the 30-year operation and maintenance (O&M) of MRT-3. Original proponent status has been given to the proponent, Metro Pacific Light Rail Corporation (MPLRC), and the proposal will soon be endorsed to NEDA for further evaluation.
Aside from this four-point strategy, the DOTr is also undertaking other efforts, like coordinating with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) in expanding the P2P (point-to-point) bus fleet that will complement the MRT-3.
Also, an independent safety audit by an ISO-certified and IFIA member certifier (International Federation of Inspection Agencies) will commence soon for the entire MRT-3 system, which is intended to give DOTr additional inputs on the interventions needed to rehabilitate and restore the system’s reliability.
“With the bump in ridership expected as we approach the holidays, the public can be assured that the DOTr is pursuing all avenues to restore the MRT-3’s reliability and to continue ensuring the safety of its 500,000 daily riders,” the DOTr said.