Wednesday, October 08, 2014

The MRT Mess

The Senate public services committee turned into a mediator while the Department of Transportation and Communications chief Joseph Emilio "Jun" Abaya and Fil-Estate and MRT Holdings Chair Roberto Sobrepeña gave their respective sides to the story on the sorry state of the mass rail transit system MRT 3. Bob Sobrepeña revealed MRTC tried four times to buy new trains for the mass rail system as early as 2004, but there was no action on the part of DOTC.

Sumitomo handled everything including parts and service. Nothing else have to be bought by the government or the private sector,Sumitomo increased its service rates from $1.4 million a month to $2 million in 2012, prompting DOTC to terminate deal with the Japanese contractor. Sumitomo really needed additional funds to overhaul the trains. The most important loss was of the single point responsibility. This loss has now lead to the current state of finger-pointing.

Jun Abaya clsaimed that PH Tram has given the government terms of warranty."In that case, we should not pay them because they didn't do a good job. Because of their ineffieciency the MRT-3 is already fully depreciated and no longer dependable.

In 2012, the DOTC awarded a P517 million MRT maintenance contract to a consortium led by a company called PH Trams. PH Trams was all of these things:
• It was a new company
• It was undercapitalized
• It had no experience whatsoever in maintaining MRT systems, an undertaking that requires the highest of technical skills
• In late 20122, the Securities and Exchange Commission certified that PH Trams was not registered with the SEC
Despite all of these negatives, which in the ideal world would not have even allowed PH Trams to do janitorial and maintenance work, the DOTC awarded to the PH Trams-led consortium the P517 million MRT maintenance contract. The consortium was named PH Trams and CB and T. We are talking here about a MRT system valued at P30 billion.
 The worse was yet to come. It was later revealed that three PH Tram incorporators, including Arturo Soriano, Wilson de Vera and Mario de la Cruz, were all cronies of Vitangcol, the then MRT GM. Soriano is an uncle of Vitangcol’s wife who mysteriously got out of PH Trams just before the company he founded got a half a billion peso maintenance contract. Standard-issue Third World sleaze, zero class act.
For the maintenance contract of MRT to be awarded without bidding to an inexperienced and underfunded PH Trams, either DOTC Secretary Joseph Abaya is corrupt, or he is incompetent. No wonder, the breakdowns of trains of MRT are getting more often. 

Now, the Secretary of the DOTC must be held responsible for all the billion peso mess at MRT. Why did he allow it to happen? Under the principle of command responsibility and accountability, why is he too silent? Is the silence a prelude to a very honorable act of resignation like what the usually honorable Japanese leaders have been doing when there are just mere allegations of wrong doing in their jurisdictions? With the messy developments that are going on at the DOTC and DILG (where the Hon. Secretary have so much powers, there are only 2 possibilities that have happened; either he is too stupid not to know things happening under his very noses or that he allowed all those messy corrupt deals to happen to fill his pockets. Where does he fit then?

"Records show that the DoTC received three proposals—in 2004, 2008 and 2010—to buy additional trains, upgrade the systems and back-to-zero-hours works, at no cost to the government. The DoTC never acted on these proposals.

This says a lot. So the purchase of additional trains is the responsibility of DOTC? I thought it was the responsibility of  MRTC. DOTC is now saying no trains were bought by MRTC after receiving 35 billion.
Now MRTC is saying it needs DOTC's approval to buy new trains but DOTC sat on it because they wanted to buy the trains themselves. This story by MRTC sounds more believable because there is a motive (kickbacks).
No one is ever held accountable. Who in the DOTC gave the final nod for these idiots to maintain the MRT. They should be held accountable, but in this country no one is ever held accountable. Its never anyone’s fault. I always say tell me any organization in this country that is run correctly.

Why does the DoTC want to assume that MRTC had waived its right of first refusal? Because the DoTC wants to buy the additional trains itself. Why? do you still remember when an ambassador accused the manager of MRT3 of trying to extort $30 million from him in exchange for buying the additional trains from his country—may be an indication of the reason. At any rate, the government has already ordered 48 new coaches from China without the consent of MRTC, in violation of the BLT agreement.

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