Ex-of­fi­cials be­hind MRT mess should be charged

Manila Times - - OPINION -

EWS that 48 Chi­nese-made coaches for the Metro Rail Tran­sit 3 line are ut­terly use­less is in­fu­ri­at­ing at the very least. It’s a tremen­dous waste of tax­pay­ers’ money – P526 mil­lion – on what was sup­posed to be the so­lu­tion to the daily suf­fer­ings of Metro Manila com­muters. The trains would have been op­er­a­tional by mid- 2017 and there would have been a longer four- coach con­fig­u­ra­tion to ac­com­mo­date more pas­sen­gers.

On Tues­day, how­ever, Sen. Grace Poe bared that all 48 trains from sup­plier Dalian Corp. weighed close to 49,000 kilo­grams each, way above the re­quired 46,300 kg un­der the terms.

This means the Chi­nese coaches al­ready ex­ceed the pre­scribed weight with­out tak­ing in pas­sen­gers. Imag­ine the tremen­dous pres­sure these coaches could place on MRT-3’s di­lap­i­dated rails.

That is not all, how­ever. Out of the 48 coaches de­liv­ered, only 29 have the sig­nalling sys­tem needed to keep the MRT-3 sys­tem run­ning smoothly.

Poe ear­lier called out the MRT-3 main­te­nance provider, Bu­san Uni­ver­sal Rail Inc., or BURI, for non-per­for­mance of its obli­ga­tion to en­sure the sys­tem’s safety and pro­cure parts from the orig­i­nal equip­ment man­u­fac­turer.

To re­call, BURI was found to have pro­cured the train’s au­to­matic pro­tec­tion as Di­a­mond Pearl Devel­op­ment and Mar­ket­ing Corp. One does not have to be an en­gi­neer to re­al­ize that some­thing is ter­ri­bly wrong with the BURI deal. The al­most daily hitches at the train sys­tem, de­spite P54.5 mil­lion in monthly pay

That the coaches are over­weight raises sus­pi­cion. Any think­ing per­son will re­al­ize that these will dam­age the rails; un­less the ob­jec­tive re­ally is to force the gov­ern­ment to ten­der yet an­other lu­cra­tive con­tract to re­place the tracks.

of the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion dur­ing the Aquino ad­min­is­tra­tion – have made, as Poe said, a “mock­ery of the or­deals of the rid­ing public in the guise of MRT’s wellpub­li­cized ca­pac­ity ex­pan­sion.”

The Trans­port depart­ment said last month it was con­sid­er­ing re­turn­ing the in­com­pat­i­ble coaches to China. Sin­ga­pore, it should be noted, did this in 2016, when it shipped back 22 coaches to a dif­fer­ent Chi­nese man­u­fac­turer be­cause of de­fects.

There could be grounds for can­cel­ing the en­tire P3.8bil­lion or­der and su­ing all those re­spon­si­ble in court. The gov­ern­ment should also se­ri­ously study the op­tion of ter­mi­nat­ing BURI’s con­tract for non-per­for­mance of its con­trac­tual obli­ga­tions.

Any new con­tract for the MRT-3 re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, whether through open bid­ding or a ne­go­ti­ated deal, should be trans­par­ent to avoid a re­peat of this night­mare.

The MRT mess can­not be a crime with­out a sus­pect, con­sid­er­ing that the vic­tims – the suf­fer­ing com­muters – are in the mil­lions.

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