Tugade: MRT to prioritize maintenance, other issues before approving MPIC’s unsolicited bid

BEFORE it closes the unsolicited proposal for the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3, the government aims to first address issues pertaining to the upkeep, operations, and acquisitions of and for the said train facility.

Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade said his group would put prime importance to the chronic issues of the railway line before officially approving Metro Pacific Investments Corp.’s (MPIC) P30-billion unsolicited proposal for the modernization and expansion of the train system.

“They’re doing their due diligence, which means they are reviewing the engineering, architectural and marketing aspects of the facility,” he said. “Based on our talks, we can address the unsolicited proposal the end of the year, after finishing the maintenance and operating issues, including the Dalian trains.”

The issues that Tugade listed are currently being addressed through an official development assistance (ODA) deal with the Japanese government, which includes the rehabilitation and maintenance of the rail facility.  The P16.98-billion loan facility will be used to cover the railway line’s trains, power-supply system, overhead catenary system, radio system, closed-circuit television system, public-address system, signaling system, rail tracks, road-rail vehicles, depot equipment, elevators and escalators, and other station-building equipment.

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Tentatively, the whole deal will take about three-and-a-half years—31 months for the simultaneous rehabilitation and maintenance works to restore train system to its original design condition and capacity, and a year for the defect liability period. Talks for the said assistance started last year. January saw the exchange of note verbale between the two governments.

Signing the agreement is tentatively set for this month.

The Japan ODA-financed rehabilitation and maintenance project is intended to “fix everything that needs to be fixed” in the MRT 3 through a well-qualified, experienced and single-point-of-responsibility rehabilitation and maintenance service provider. The government is currently directly engaging Sumitomo Corp. and its technical partner Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for the upkeep of the MRT 3.

The two companies designed, built and maintained the MRT 3 in its first 12 years of operations.

Sumitomo’s maintenance contract was terminated in 2012, after the previous administration decided to take over the said component despite contrary provisions in the build-lease-transfer contract with MRT Corp.  The new rehabilitation and maintenance service provider will be mobilized after securing the loan agreement from Japan.

For the Dalian trains, the government is currently reviewing the system audit report conducted by TUV Rheinland, which was submitted to the transpiration department last month, but has not been made public yet.  “They have submitted the report to us. Just give us some time to review it,” Transportation Undersecretary Timothy John R. Batan said.

“As you know, the issue is multifaceted, including signalling, weight and depot equipment. We just really want to understand it fully.”

Chinese train manufacturer Dalian completed the delivery of 48 light-rail vehicles to the government in February last year. These train cars were not deployed immediately despite their monthly delivery from 2016, due to issues pertaining to onboard signalling, weight and parts.

Turning Points 2018
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