By Babe G. Romualdez (SPYBITS) | The Philippine Star | September 18, 2014
The bright boys at the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) continue to shift the blame on everyone else except themselves for the MRT mess that is putting the lives of MRT passengers in danger. Contrary to Transport Secretary Jun Abaya’s statements, it’s not really MRT Corp. (MRTC) that is the culprit for this transport problem that began during the time of President Gloria Arroyo, and has gotten worse during the successive stints of Mar Roxas and Jun Abaya as DOTC chief, with the latter admitting that the increase in the number of glitches has been “alarming.”
The fact of the matter is, MRT3 is a disaster waiting to happen because of official corruption, incompetence or negligence, if not all three. Not many know that it was DOTC that took over the maintenance work in 2012 after dumping longtime contractor Sumitomo and “requesting” MRTC to surrender its job of selecting the operation and maintenance service provider, and then awarding an interim contract to an unqualified and undercapitalized company through a negotiated arrangement instead of the mandatory public bidding. It can be recalled that then-MRT general manager Al Vitangcol Jr. suddenly announced in an MRTC Board meeting in 2012 that Sumitomo’s contract, which was about to expire, would no longer be extended, and that DOTC wanted a new operation and maintenance contractor in its place.
In any case, DOTC executives need to have their heads examined if they still insist in suing MRTC given that seven of the 11-member Board of Directors are government officials. On the contrary, it is the DOTC executives themselves who should be haled to court for criminal negligence – for allowing this EDSA train service to deteriorate to the point of endangering the lives of over half a million Filipino commuters daily, our insider source claimed.
All of these problems could have been mitigated if DOTC/LRTA had not ignored the previous proposals of the MRTH/MRTC for upgrades in anticipation of reaching the 350,000-passenger design capacity of the MRT. In 2011, MPIC also made a proposal to provide additional trains, upgrade, and improve the system and extend the MRT-3 system to Monumento at no cost to the government. Instead, the DOTC chose to acquire 48 light rail vehicles from Dalian Locomotive – which may not be compatible with the existing structure of the MRT-3. Another potential boo-boo that could prove disastrous in the end, our source commented.