The government’s failure to address the root cause of chronic problems of the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3) could lead to disasters, a consumer group warned on Wednesday.
The root cause, according to the National Coalition of Filipino Consumers (NCFC), is the overuse and abuse of the train system.
The NCFC head, lawyer Oliver San Antonio, cited overloading, which he said has led to rapid deterioration of MRT 3.
This fast decline of the system, San Antonio said in a statement, “cannot simply be addressed by improving maintenance” because MRT 3 “had delivered more than what was expected of it.”
“With MRT 3 having to transport almost twice its ideal capacity every day, the public should expect the line’s services to get progressively worse if the government fails to rehabilitate the problematic train system,” he added.
San Antonio warned, “Today, MRT 3 passengers rightfully complain about the inconvenience and discomfort of [riding the system but]tomorrow we could be dealing with injury and disasters.”
He noted that MRT 3, designed to carry 350,000 passengers daily, is forced to transport over half a million people [instead]“on train [coaches]that should have been retired years ago.”
Recent incidents that disrupted services of the train system were blamed on maintenance issues but, the NCFC head said, the government “should look at whether the system had been designed to take on this kind of abuse for so long.”
MRT 3 spokesperson Hernando Cabrera has admitted that the system’s trains, which should undergo rehabilitation at least every eight years, have not been restored since 2006.
MRT 3 began its operations in 1999 but has not undergone major rehabilitation since.
San Antonio said equipment “have guidelines for proper or regular use, as well as set lifespan based on usage.”
Manufacturers, he added, caution end-users that if their products are used under wrong conditions or for periods beyond what they prescribe, then their products cannot be expected to deliver ideal results.
“In the case of MRT 3, there are already signs that the overuse and abuse of the trains is taking its toll on the entire system. According to data from the [Department of Transportation and Communications], between January 2009 and October 2012, the maintenance contractor reported six broken rails that needed replacement,” San Antonio said.
Between October 2012 and September 2013, he added, the contractor reported 11 broken rails.
From the last quarter of 2013 to May this year, according to San Antonio, the contractor reported that 21 rails needed replacement.
“At this point, [MRT 3] may be beyond maintenance and it may be unrealistic for us to expect the maintenance contractor to fix something that should not be fixed but replaced instead,” he said.