Business Mirror Editorial | May 18, 2016

APPARENTLY, the mere idea that a new government administration is replacing the current one in six weeks is enough to inspire thoughts that great things can come our way in the foreseeable future. And these refer only to the traffic situation in Metro Manila.

Two proposals for the modernization and expansion of Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT 3) to bring it up to first-world status, both shelved by the current administration, will be dusted off and submitted to the incoming administration for consideration. One comes from MRT Holdings Inc., the owner of MRT 3, headed by Robert John L. Sobrepeña; and the other comes from Metro Pacific Investments Corp., headed by businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan.

Each of the proposals will solve the MRT 3’s notorious woes of dilapidated rails, outdated signaling system, failing train cars, nonfunctioning elevators and escalators, antiquated stations and dangerous overcrowding. Each will purchase new cars that will double the system’s capacity and bring in technologically advanced management for maximum passenger security and convenience.

The Sobrepeña proposal will cost $800 million, while the Pangilinan proposal will entail a total investment of $525 million. Both will be at no cost to the government. Fares will be based on bus fares, according to the first proposal; and on calculation of reasonable return on investment, according to the second proposal. A noteworthy feature of the second proposal is that it will release the government from the payment of billions of pesos in equity rents annually to the owner. In anticipation of a positive reception from the incoming administration, the two corporate groups are reported to have recently met to form a possible joint venture to implement their proposals.

We are not preempting the decision process of the incoming administration, but we cannot help feeling exhilarated at the prospect of having a modern, first-class transport facility serving us—giving us a reason to hold our heads up in the company of friends from at home or from abroad.

Why the outgoing administration rejected these proposals, all so obviously favorable to the government, in favor of stupid outlandish schemes, like buying out the owner at a price of P57 billion without a shred of benefit to the riding public (thank God, the buyout did not happen); and taking over management functions, including the purchase of disjointed trains, two of which have now arrived, that seem technologically incongruous to the MRT system, must be explained to the Filipino people…if they can.

People who think they know have an explanation: Officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications simply suffered from an inferiority complex that prevented them from meeting accomplished executives of the private sector. Some just didn’t want to see Pangilinan succeed. In fact, they also held up other Pangilinan-initiated projects.

Our deliverance from the current traffic hell on earth now seems a realistic prospect, made possible by an administration that has not even taken over yet.


Image Credits: Jimbo Albano