THE Department of Transportation (DOTr) is planning to return P3.8 billion worth of new light rail vehicles that the Aquino administration bought from China if a third party qualifier would make that recommendation, an official said on Wednesday.
Transportation Undersecretary Cesar Chavez said the department has sent letters to four international certifiers asking them to study the 48 coaches from Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stocks Co. and determine whether they could be used by the Metro Rail Transit (MRT).
Chavez said the DOTr expected to get the results from the analysts by the end of 2017 and from which it would know what its next step would be.
“We expect the results after three months from the notice to proceed and therefore before the end of the year we will know if we will return the coaches to China,” Chavez told the Senate finance committee that was hearing the proposed budget of the department.
The train coaches were procured under former Transportation secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, as part of the MRT3 capacity expansion project.
A total of 48 coaches have been delivered by Dalian since 2016 but the MRT still couldn’t use the train cars because of several problems on the signaling system and compatibility that should have been taken care of by the supplier before the delivery.
Chavez said the option for the DOTr was to return the coaches to China and have the supplier fix all the issues.
“They (supplier) have to fix them. The contract states that coaches that would be delivered should be compatible with the existing depot facilities,” he added.
Senator Grace Poe, for her part, welcomed the move of the DOTr to allow an independent audit of the China-made trains.
“An independent auditor should come in,” said Poe, pointing out that in the event the government returns the light rail vehicles to China, “the Philippine government will not be faulted without legitimate reasons behind it.” JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA