GMA News Online | November 9, 2015

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya assured the Senate Monday that there will be an improvement in the services of Metro Rail Transit (MRT3) as new trains become operational in the first quarter of 2016.

“There will be improvement in the service come first quarter. Now we are rolling out beep cards, that helps in the shortening of queues and the easier transfer from one line to another is appreciated,” Abaya said when asked by Senator Ralph Recto during the resumption of the Senate Committee on Public Services' hearing on MRT.

“For the first quarter of 2016 what we can expect is the first set of Dalian train[s] will be moving. Getting a better experience is all relative. But in terms of capacity, we will have additional capacity. We are about to award the maintenance. The maintenance awarded by GM Buenafe was short term. We hope we can award three years,” he added.

Earlier during the hearing, committee chairperson Senator Grace Poe questioned the delay in the repair of escalators and elevators at the MRT stations.

Abaya said the repair of Schindler escalators is expected to be finished by December while the remaining 22 to 23 Mitsubishi elevators and escalators need to be changed as these are using a 15-year-old technology.

“Ang ibang piyesa, kailangan palitan. Hawak ng procurement ng Department of Budget and Management 'yan. Hinihintay namin matapos at ma-award sa manalong contractor,” he said.

MRT general manager Roman Buenafe said all stations have Schindler escalators except those in Cubao in Quezon City and Taft Avenue in Pasay City.

He said the elevators will be modernized from the hydraulic-type to cable-type.

“Ang elevator-type natin sa MRT are all hydraulic-type. Karamihan nang nakikita nating elevator ay traction-type, kable po. 'Yun ang pupuntahan nating approach,” he said.

He added that there was a problem with the procurement of elevators as the bidders failed to submit eligibility requirements.

“Nag-fail ang first round of bidding. We are expecting another round of submission within the next two weeks," he said.

Buenafe added that the procurement will be finished in 120 days.

He also said that the construction of the rest rooms for females and persons with disability will be finished by the end of the year.

Abaya, meanwhile, admitted that the process of procurement remains a challenge for them.

“From our end it's quite difficult. We are praised by international organizations with our procurement law dahil mahigpit at binabawasan ang leakages. Ang naging counter effect nito ay kabagalan. Kaya if you listen to Sec. Rogelio Singson kung pwedeng luwagan ng kaunti. That’s a continuing issue,” he said.

Poe also questioned the separate procurement of coaches from China and engines from Germany.

“Bakit 'di na lang kumuha ng magkakasama? Para sa akin ito ang meat ng sistema, yung makina. Dalian (Locomotive) pala eh (ang kaha). Bakit 'di tayo kumuha ng iisa?” she said.

Abaya said they have yet to accept the trains.

“Wala pa tayong tinatanggap. Delivery process pa. Nung sinabi (ng Dalian) kakausapin ang Germany na magdedeliver, winelcome namin kasi mas maganda ang kalalabasan. Malinaw ang kontrata na Dalian lang ang kontrata at wala tayong separate contract sa makina,” he said.

He added that they are now in the testing phase of the coach components.

The government ordered 48 coaches from Dalian.