THE Duterte administration asked the public for “more time” to fix the Metro Rail Transit (MRT-3), following a series of mishaps that has hit railway system.
“The President accepts the responsibility of instituting extensive reforms in the MRT to alleviate the plight of our commuters. We are just asking for more time because for one, the contracts entered into by the previous administration, particularly that of Busan, that needs to be rescinded or nullified first,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said.
Busan is the Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI), the maintenance provider of MRT-3, until the Department of Transportation (DOTr) terminated its contract with the Philippine government last November 6.
The DOTr cited the following reasons for terminating the BURI contract:
* poor performance;
* failure to put in service and subsequently ensure the availability of contractually obligated number of trains;
* failure to put in operation reliable and efficient trains;
* failure to implement a feasible procurement plan for spare parts;
* and failure to comply with the contractual requirements of a complete and up-to-date Computerized Maintenance Management System.
“And we can expect that there will be an exchange of filing of charges because Busan won’t readily accept that its billions worth of contract will be stripped from them,” said Roque.
“We are not washing our hands from liability here. We accept the challenges and the President (Rodrigo Duterte) himself apologized for the MRT breakdowns. Be that as it may, the President is taking steps to ease the commuters’ suffering, starting with the axing of Busan [as maintenance provider],” Roque said.
Likewise, the Palace does not see the need for the President to fire Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade just yet.
“We are monitoring his performance, and the time has not come for him to be fired. He enjoys the full trust and confidence of the President,” Roque said.
“The President has said he will back up Secretary Tugade in whatever he may need to effect immediate reform of the MRT,” Roque said.
The President and Tugade are classmates at the San Beda College of Law, and the Chief Executive has often described Tugade as bright.
Based on government records, the capacity of the MRT-3, which runs from EDSA North Avenue in Quezon City to EDSA Taft Avenue in Pasay City is at 350,000 passengers per day. However, it is servicing more than 500,000 commuters per day.