By Miguel R. Camus | Philippine Daily Inquirer | Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Bidders have snubbed for the second time a P2.4-billion, three-year contract to maintain the busy Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3), according to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).
DOTC spokesperson Michael Sagcal said no group had submitted bids when the deadline passed Tuesday, even after the government revised parts of the contract. The first bidding round held in October 2014 also drew no bidders, the agency’s bids and awards committee (BAC) earlier disclosed.
“The BAC will have to declare a failure of bid and conduct a mandatory review in accordance with rules, to determine what further adjustments should be made in order to make the project acceptable to interested groups,” Sagcal said in a text message.
As many as five groups acquired bid documents during the initial bidding round, including South Korea’s Busan Metro, Mosa-Inekon and a unit of DMCI Holdings Inc.
Part of what made the contract challenging for bidders was that many of the MRT’s systems were outdated and the needed part replacements and rehabilitation works were already overdue by more than five years, said one group representative who declined to be named.
Autre Port Technique Global Inc. (APT Global), a Filipino company, is currently providing maintenance services for MRT-3.
A series of breakdowns and glitches hit the elevated railway line on Edsa last year and put the DOTC and APT Global under intense public criticism.
Critics found more reason to assail the DOTC when it decided to increase fares for the MRT-3 as well as the Light Rail Transit Lines 1 and 2. The agency justified the rate adjustments, which took effect Jan. 4, saying they would lead to better train services.
The new maintenance contract up for bidding is a key part of the P9.7-billion improvement projects that the government is committing for the MRT, one of three overhead railways serving Metro Manila. The MRT serves over half a million riders daily.
The improvement plan also includes the acquisition of 48 new train coaches worth P3.76 billion to be delivered from September 2015 until the end of 2016, and a private sector-funded, P1.09-billion automated fare collection system.
With the new trains, DOTC said the current 3-car configuration would improve to a 4-car configuration and allow more passengers to board per train.
The headway or time gap between train arrivals is also expected to be shorter, from the current 3 minutes down to 2.5 minutes, it said.
Other projects include six kilometers worth of rail replacements, the upgrade of the signaling system, the elevators and escalators at the stations; the installation of a new radio communications system, upgrading of elevators and escalators, and traction motors replacement.
The overhaul of the trains should be completed by 2016, the DOTC said.