MRTC: Govt acquisition of MRT won’t solve safety issue

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Metro Rail Transit Corp. (MRTC) said on Tuesday addressing the problem of safety in the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) system will require proper maintenance and notmerely “an equity value buy-out” by the government.

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“An equity value buy-out will not address the problem of safety. The problem of safety can only be addressed by getting a qualified maintenance provider,” MRT Holdings spokesperson David Narvasa said.

Last month, The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said the government has started the buyout of Metro Rail Transit Line 3 project (MRT-3) even if a decision by an arbitration court in Singapore is still being awaited on the case filed by the railway operator, MRTC, against the government.

DOTC earlier said that the MRT-3 buyout requires the blessing of the arbitration court.

In 2009, the MRTC filed an arbitration case in Singapore against the Philippines over its late payment of equity rentals. It filed another case over the DOTC’s decision to award to a Chinese firm the contract to supply 48 new light rail vehicles for MRT-3.

LandBank and the Development Bank of the Philippines hold a combined 80 percent economic interest in MRT-3.

Metro Pacific Investments Corp., led by businessman Manny Pangilinan, has a controlling stake of 48 percent in MRTC after signing cooperation agreements with various groups that hold rights and interests in MRT-3.

Furthermore, Narvasa also said that an upgrade is not the immediate solution to the recurring situation of train breakdowns.

“The solution to the safety issue is to get a qualified maintenance provider that is financially and technically capable,” Narvasa said.

Meanwhile, the DOTC said on Monday that it is looking for potential bidders for the P2.2 billion three-year maintenance service contract for MRT-3.

The MRT-3 is DOTC’s integrated strategy to alleviate the traffic congestion along the EDSA corridor.

Completed in July 2000, the MRT-3 carries about 600,000 passengers daily on its 17-kilometer route.

In a bid bulletin, DOTC said, “To ensure that the MRT-3 System operates under safe running conditions with on-time and reliable performance in providing convenience to all passengers, while still effectively maintaining cost at a minimum level, the DOTC MRT-3 is inviting bidders for the three-year Maintenance Service Provider contract.”

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