DOTr eyes rehiring Sumitomo as MRT-3 maintenance provider

MANILA -- The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is set to sign an agreement with Sumitomo Corporation and its technical partner Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for the maintenance of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) railway system by the end of the year.

The DOTr said the maintenance deal would be pursued through an Official Development Assistance (ODA) from the Government of Japan.

High-level discussions with the Government of Japan are ongoing to pave the way for DOTr's direct engagement of Sumitomo Corporation and its technical partner Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, under a Government to Government (G2G) Official Development Assistance (ODA) platform. A G2G agreement is scheduled to be signed before yearend, the department said in a statement Wednesday.

The contract which will include the rehabilitation and restoration of the railway system to its original performance standards is expected to last for three years.

DOTr has created a Maintenance Transition Team (MTT) that has taken over the maintenance of the MRT for three to six months while it is in the process of procuring a new maintenance service provider following the termination of the previous maintenance contract with Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI) last November 6 due to various issues.

The department particularly cited BURI's failure to overhaul MRT-3's train cars in compliance with the maintenance contract as only two out of 43 train cars have been overhauled as of November 21.

These failures resulted to several incidents of passenger unloading and train removal for the duration of BURI's maintenance of the MRT which started January 2016.

BURI's termination is intended to promote accountability, and to ensure that taxpayers' money (PHP 54 million a month for maintenance and PHP 907 million for the overhaul) is not spent on a non-performing service provider, DOTr explained.

The MTT has hired over 450 former employees of BURI that are essential for the maintenance of the MRT while the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) and the Philippine National Railways (PNR) have provided their qualified and experienced technical engineers.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has created the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) that will expedite the procurement of some critical rehabilitation services and spare parts.

The department is also pursuing an unsolicited proposal on the operations and maintenance of MRT for 30 years.

Original proponent status has been granted to the Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) which will be submitted to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and will undergo Swiss Challenge once approved. The procurement mode will enable companies to make competing offers while giving the original proponent to match them.

It has also coordinated with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to expand the fleet of point to point bus fleet that serve as an alternative mode of transportation for MRT commuters.

An independent safety audit to be conducted by an ISO-certified and member certifier of the International Federation of Inspection Agencies (IFIA) will likewise provide additional inputs for the restoration and rehabilitation of the MRT system's reliability.

The MRT Corporation (MRTC), the operator of the MRT-3, earlier said that it has discussed with Sumitomo an action plan that will rehabilitate the rail line.

The rehabilitation plan will include a full inspection of the MRT-3 to be completed within 30 days by 100 engineers, the purchase of USD50 million worth of spare parts, replacement of broken rails, and the overhaul of all 73 cars of MRT which can be completed by Sumitomo with the trains set to be operational as early as 26 months from the start of the program.

MRTC is willing to invest USD150 million for the rehabilitation of the trains which will be recovered through fare increases that will not exceed beyond those of the airconditioned buses.

Sumitomo is the Japanese maintenance contractor that designed, built and maintained the MRT-3 system for 12 years or until 2012 without major glitches.

Source: Philippine News Agency