MANILA -- The rehabilitation of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) is still on track to meet its 26-month completion target amid pending enactment into law of the 2019 national budget, a Department of Transportation (DOTr) official said on Wednesday.
DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan said maintenance service provider Sumitomo Corp., together with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), started advance transition works as early as November 2018.
Last month, Batan said Sumitomo-MHI also began advance procurement of tracks, train parts, and other components necessary for the comprehensive rehabilitation of MRT-3 despite the government's failure to pay them in advance due to delays in the approval of the 2019 national budget.
So far, we are still on track to February plus 26 months. Again, the reason is the early work that needs to be done involves buying tracks, and spare parts for the trains we need to overhaul, he said in a Palace briefing.
Honestly, we have not yet given Sumitomo what we call advance payment because we are waiting for the passage of the 2019 budget, he added.
Batan said the Japanese contractor's trust and confidence in the Duterte administration and its ambitious Build, Build, Build" infrastructure program is what convinced them to proceed with the project even without advance payment.
Mataas kasi talaga yung tiwala ng Sumitomo, ng Mitsubishi Heavy sa atin pong kagawaran, kay Secretary (Art) Tugade at sa kabuuan ng'Build, Build, Build' program ng Duterte administration kung kaya po di pa tayo nagbabayad ng kahit ano ay na-order na po nila yung mga kailangan pong gamitin para sa rehabilitation (We owe it to Sumitomo and Mitsubishi Heavy's trust in the department of Secretary Tugade, the 'Build, Build, Build' program of the Duterte administration for ordering what we need for the rehabilitation even if we have not yet paid them), he added.
The MRT-3 rehab is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2021.
Despite being on track, Batan said the 2019 budget's pending release could still affect the MRT-3 rehab, as well as two other railway projects � the Metro Manila Subway, and the North-South Commuter Railway of the Philippine National Railways (PNR).
He said these may be affected because the funding for the three railway projects is not included in the reenacted budget of 2018.
Of these projects, Batan said the general overhaul of the MRT-3's entire fleet of 72 light rail vehicles (LRVs) and day-to-day maintenance take the biggest toll.
Because it was not included in the reenacted 2018 budget, we do not have funds for the MRT-3 rehab, he said.
Batan emphasized that although the 2018 reenacted budget allocates PHP1 billion for the country's first Subway, this is not yet the full payment.
Even if we have PHP1 billion from the 2018 reenacted budget, that is not enough for all the requirements of the Subway, Batan said.
As for the North-South Commuter line, he said the project's un-programmed appropriations are also not included in the reenacted budget for 2018.
Actually, all projects that require funding for the first time from the 2019 General Appropriations Act will be affected to a certain extent, Batan said.
PNR General Manager Junn Magno, meanwhile, said that the railway projects are currently at the mercy of suppliers and vendors pending the release of the 2019 budget.
We're in the mercy of our suppliers and our vendors. We are asking them, 'Would you begin advance work while we wait for the approval of the GAA 2010.' That's what's happening now), Magno said.
We make do with what we have, he added.
Source: Philippines News Agency