By Kris Bayos | Manila Bulletin | February 13, 2014

Manila, Philippines – The private entity that owns the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 has accused the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) of snubbing its proposal to augment the fleet of the mass transportation facility at no cost to government

MRT Holdings II, Inc. (MRTH) said it submitted proposals to acquire additional trains for the MRT 3 in 2007 and 2010, contrary to the claims of government that it has failed to upgrade its facilities. MRTH reportedly owns 100 percent of the MRTC, which owns the facilities of MRT 3.

“The MRT Group also made several proposals to acquire additional LRVs from before 2007, and the 2010 proposal of Metro Pacific Investment Corporation to supply additional trains at no cost to the government – all remain in limbo and have not been responded to by DOTC,” MRTH spokesman Atty. David Narvasa said.

Narvasa said the DOTC should focus on its role as lessee under the Build-Lease-Transfer agreement instead of pushing for the bidding of a contract for the supply and delivery of 48 new light rail vehicles (LRVs).

The DOTC Bids and Awards Committee last January 16 awarded a contract to a China company for the supply of 48 new light rail vehicles at the cost of P3.75 billion, but the Makati Regional Trial Court stopped the project on petition of MRTH which said it has the preferential right to supply the vehicles.

MRTH added that DOTC should be upgrading MRT 3’s obsolete signaling system and investing on maintaining its fleet. MRT 3’s former maintenance contractor Japanese firm Sumitomo Corp. reportedly informed the DOTC that using the existing signaling system would result in higher cost of parts and maintenance.

Narvasa said the DOTC has also been remiss in maintaining the existing MRT 3 fleet, as evidenced by the number of LRVs that have been decommissioned or have been grounded for repairs.

“At present, it is reported that operational LRVs have gone below 60 units, the minimum number of cars that should be available for revenue service during peak hours,” Narvasa said.

“The maintenance logs have not been made available to MRTC and the maintenance auditor from MTR of Hong Kong who was engaged by MRTC to assess the condition of its assets was refused access to the depot and to the maintenance logs to conduct an actual technical audit of the true condition of the MRT 3 system,” he added.

By failing to upgrade MRT 3’s signaling system and investing in the maintenance of the facility, MRTH said the DoTC is actually “creating more traffic and passenger congestion, rather than solving them.”

Sought for comment, DoTC spokesperson Atty. Michael Sagcal only said that the MRTH is diverting the issue.

“The case that MRT Holdings II filed is meant to prevent government from adding LRVs to the MRT 3 system. Instead of trying to divert the issue, MRTH-II should answer the obvious question: Why has it  not caused MRTC to add new LRVs to MRT-3?”

Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 66 Judge Joselito Villarosa has granted the petition of MRTH to stop the government’s MRT 3 Capacity Expansion Project. In its petition, the MRTH said it has the preferential right to supply the LRVs for the MRT 3 and that it can only lose the right if it has breached its obligation under its BLT Agreement with the government or if it consents to DOTC’s use of LRVs provided by the MRTC.

In a notice of award dated January 16, 2014, the DOTC Bids and Awards Committee awarded the contract to supply 48 new LRVs for the MRT 3 to Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Co., Ltd. CNR Group (Dalian) of China. The procurement costs the government P3,759,382,400.