by Kris Bayos | Manila Bulletin | June 10, 2015

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is hiking the proposed budget for the three-year maintenance contract of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 to P4.2 billion, which is almost double than the the original allocation.

MRT 3 general manager Roman Buenafe said they are proposing a budget hike because of additional components to the maintenance contract, which is yet to be awarded to private service providers following two failed biddings.

“Now we’re including in the lot the general overhaul of the MRT 3 trains and replacement of signaling system,” Buenafe told reporters during the sidelines of the groundbreaking of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) 2 East Extension Project last Tuesday.

To recall, the DOTC has attempted to bid out the three-year MRT 3 maintenance contract since September 2014. Despite the increase to P2.4 billion from the original P2.2 billion approved budget cost (ABC) and lesser stringent penalties for failure to meet key performance indices, the second bidding of the MRT 3 maintenance contract failed to attract bidders.

Following the failed auction, DOTC is proposing an emergency mode of procurement to replace the existing maintenance provider. Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya argued it will take at least one and a half months to award the contract through an emergency procurement compared with a regular public bidding that can last up to three months.

“We are finalizing the terms of reference and will submit it to the Government Procurement Policy Board and National Economic and Development Authority for approval,” he explained.

“Supposing we get approval of the amount and mode, we can start negotiation even with just one party,” Buenafe said, admitting however that there are “more than one interested parties” in the contract.

As of press time, the DOTC and MRT 3 are yet to meet with GPPB and NEDA officials for the presentation of their proposal. However, Buenafe said “we target to award the long-term maintenance contract by the third quarter.”