Darwin G. Amojelar | Manila Standard | April 25, 2017

The Transportation Department on Friday warned Busan Universal Rail Inc. of terminating its maintenance contract due to a series of service disruptions at Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3.

"With series of serious incidents that have transpired in the past and most recently, you are hereby directed to explain within in seven days... why subject contract not be terminated in accordance with the provisions of law and contract on termination for convenience and failure to satisfactorily perform work obligations," Transport Undersecretary for Railways Cesar Chavez Jr. said in a letter to Busan dated April 19.

Chavez cited 116 unloading incidents at MRT3 due to technical problems from January to April 19 this year. The department noted 586 unloading incidents in 2016.

"We also commence the partial termination process for contracts signaling and general overhaul [of Busan]," Chavez said.

Busan's general overhauling of 43 trains contract amounted to P907.4 million, while the replacement of the signaling system amounted to P888 million.

Earlier, BURI said it put 65 train cars in good running condition, or an average of two to three trains restored since its contract started in January last year.

It added the average passengers had increased to almost half a million after the restoration of 26 cars since early 2016.

BURI said the company had three years to overhaul the 43 coaches under its contract with the government.

The Transportation Department in January 2016 signed a P3.8-billion three-year contract with Joint Venture of Busan Transportation Corp., Edison Development & Construction, Tramat Mercantile Inc., TMICorp, and Castan Corp. to do maintenance works of the rolling stock and signaling system, the most critical maintenance component of MRT3.

Metro Rail Transit Line 3 has reached the maximum number of operational trains for the first time in four years, allowing the system to serve more passengers, reduce the queues and lift its revenues.

"By giving the public more trains, I think we are serving more passengers," MRT 3 officer-in-charge Deo Leo Manalo earlier said.