Rappler.com | November 29, 2017

Sumitomo Corporation, the original maintenance provider of the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT3), will again handle maintenance of the beleaguered train system, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said Wednesday, November 29.

An agreement between the Philippine and Japanese governments for a "direct engagement" with Sumitomo and its technical partner, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, could be signed by the third week of December, CNN Philippines reported.

After this, the report said, the two sides will discuss Sumitomo's re-entry as the MRT3 maintenance provider.

Sumitomo could start maintenance work on the MRT3 as early as "April, May of next year," Transport Assistant Secretary TJ Batan said in an interview on CNN Philippines Wednesday.

At present, the government is handling the maintenance of the aging railway system, after it terminated its contract with Busan Universal Rail Inc (BURI), for allegedly failing to address the maintenance issues raised by the government.

The contract with BURI started in early 2016, and was supposed to last until 2019.

Sumitomo and Mitsubishi, meanwhile, were the original maintenance providers for the MRT3. The Japanese companies were involved in the design and construction of the system. Their contract expired in 2012.

Once the pride of Metro Manila's transport infrastructure, the MRT3, which started operations in 1999, has been plagued by poor maintenance amid steadily increasing ridership.

In the last 12 months alone, the system has been suffering from near-daily operational issues, ranging from signaling problems to train cars getting detached from one another.