The maintenance provider of the decrepit MRT-3 line never ceases to amaze us. Busan Universal Rail Inc., or BURI, stands accused of procuring a critical spare part from, of all places, a shop in Bangkal, Makati.
This is dangerous, as the part supposedly procured by BURI from Bangkal, a vehicle logic unit (VLU), serves as the MRT’s automatic protection system.
As such, the VLU needs to undergo inspection and certification to ensure the safety of the thousands of commuters who ride this mass transport system every day.
Inspection and certification are required by the Commission on Audit regulations. In the absence of such documents, the Department of Transportation withheld the payment for the VLU.
In reaction, BURI promptly sued Transport Undersecretary Cesar Chavez, who withheld the payment of P4 million.
This incident is unfortunate because again, it is the commuters who are bound to suffer as a result of this new dispute.
BURI claims this is all fake news. But it admits that the VLU procured was delivered to it, and that it returned the same to the supplier because it lacked the required documents. Still, BURI sued Chavez.
The maintenace provider should realize that the government needs to exercise due diligence on these kinds of transactions. If the Department of Transportation did BURI’s bidding and proceeded with the payment, its officials risk being sued for graft.
In fact, as Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade has said, the withholding of the P4-million payment to BURI was not the sole decision of Undersecretary Chavez; it was the entire department’s decision.
“Undersecretary Chavez always consults his plans and actions with me. His decisions were made with my consent, approval and confirmation. So, I should also be included in the graft case filed against him,” Tugade said on Monday. “Besides, all his actions are in accordance with the contract, equity, decency and law. All these are aboveboard and have gone through rigorous review and due process,” he added.
BURI, a consortium chosen to maintain the MRT-3 during the Aquino administration, does not exactly have a sterling record in maintaining the country’s busiest rail line.
Data from the Transport department showed that from January 2016 to July 2017, the MRT-3 had 3,824 train removals, 833 unloading incidents and 98 service interruptions. There were also six instances of train derailments.
Instead of being litigious, BURI should prove itself up to the task of maintaining the MRT-3. If it cannot solve the problem of maintenance, BURI should at least not contribute to it.