THE Department of Transportation (DOTr) has ordered the maintenance provider of the Metro Rail Transit-3 (MRT-3) to explain why its contract should not be terminated over the derailment of one of its trains last week.
In a text message to media over the weekend, DoTR undersecretary for rails and toll roads Cesar Chavez said: “In the report of Director (Deo) Manalo and the Independent Consultant to Secretary (Arthur) Tugade, the derailing of one bogie was due to a mechanical problem as a logical consequence of poor maintenance by Busan.”
Chavez was referring to Korean company Busan Universal Rail Inc. (Buri), maintenance provider of MRT-3. He added the DOTr does not believe Buri’s explanation that the glitch was caused by grease and the hot weather.
According to Chavez, the DOTr has already warned Buri of a possible termination of its contract due to a series of service disruptions at MRT-3.
“They have seven days to explain why we should not terminate the contract,” Chavez said in a radio interview.
Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta Rep. Jericho Nograles said on Saturday that the disaster, wherein an MRT3 train’s gearbox broke and snapped causing a derailment, “was not reported to the public in an apparent effort to cover-up the negligence and inefficiency of the maintenance provider BURI and conceal the true state of the MRT-3 system.”
Nograles said the train suffered a rear static converter failure and drive circuit interlocking (DCI) and overhead catenary system (OCS) undervoltage, causing the derailment as it was traversing the north turnback track of North Avenue Station.
He said Buri should be compelled to pay appropriate fines each time train operation is halted due to a systems failure. He said that the MRT took four hours to put the wheels back on the track.
“This is the first case of derailment of MRT-3’s whole service history and this is a very serious sign that the system is now in state of serious disrepair and could already be unsafe for the riding public,” Nograles said.
The congressman noted that this was a more serious incident than that in 2014 wherein an MRT train overshot its tracks.
Chavez said that while the incident was indeed serious, he assured that MRT-3 trains are still safe for public use.
“Yes, the incident is serious. Though the train involved was not carrying any passenger and at the turn-back area, it is a major concern for the Department of Transportation. We can’t afford to sleep in our job,” Chavez said even as clarified that the incident was not kept from the public.