Lorenz S. Marasigan | BusinessMirror | September 28, 2017

FIGHTING and finger-pointing on who is to blame on the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 mess is both counterproductive for and perilous to commuters, the facility's maintenance provider said on Thursday.

Busan Universal Rail Inc. Spokesman Charles Perfecto A. Mercado said Transportation Undersecretary for Rails Cesar B. Chavez should stop "bickering and issuing misleading information against its company's performance", warning that such are "counterproductive and may imperil the service line".

"The daily barrage of finger-pointing, including the unjust and negative public pronouncements of Transportation Undersecretary for Railways Cesar Chavez against our company unduly alarms the public, specifically regular commuters who have no better alternative to taking the MRT 3," he said.

Mercado added it was Chavez who has caused "undue injury" to the company by "unlawfully withholding due payments to it over the past 11 months."

This amounts to roughly P4 million, a move that Chavez said stemmed from the absence of a certificate of origin and factory inspection report attached to the billing.

Chavez, along with two other officials, was charged with graft before the Ombudsman for withholding the said amount.

The transport official has also spoken to the media of the agency's leaning toward the termination of Busan Rail's contract for its "poor" upkeep of the train line.

"His personal crusade to announce in advance a supposed contract termination should be scrutinized, because Busan Rail has yet to receive any official notice thereof," Mercado said.

Mercado also clarified that his group did not bill the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for spare part from an auto repair shop in Bangkal, calling Chavez's statements as "fake news".

Chavez earlier said that Busan Rail billed the transportation department for two vehicle logic units from a Bangkal auto repair shop.

Mercado said records show that Busan Rail required the supplier to withdraw the items because the supplier could not provide documents that were being required by the MRT 3.

He added Busan Rail has, in no instance, made such a bill to the transportation agency for the reported amount of $4 million or P4 million.

"Obviously, the source of the false story only had the mischievous intention to sow misinformation," Mercado said.

In another development, the transportation department has agreed to lower the speed of the MRT 3 in certain sections due to poor track conditions.

Last month and upon Busan Rail's request, the MRT 3 management conducted a series of joint train rides and inspections to confirm the company's "repeated reports" that train glitches are being caused by severe vibrations brought onto the MRT coaches by the decrepit condition of the rails".

"Busan Rail has been telling the transportation department to immediately implement the systematic total rail replacement, which, as early as November 2015, they had committed to implement by mid-2016. It is already 2017, but no such project has commenced," Mercado said.