MRT rehab not overpriced

MANILA The rehabilitation of the Metro Rail Transit Line-3 (MRT-3) is not overpriced, an official of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said Thursday.

DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan said the cost of the rehabilitation of the MRT-3, amounting to PHP18 billion, was based on a recent audit on the railway system.

Sumitomo has not formally or even informally given a price quote to MRTC (MRT Corporation) for the rehabilitation and maintenance of MRT-3 anytime in the last five years and our proposal would be based on recent audit on the current MRT-3 system, Batan said in a radio interview, quoting a statement from the company itself.

Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is set to take over the rehabilitation and maintenance of the MRT-3 following the signing of the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) of the PHP18 billion (38-billion Japanese yen) loan agreement for the MRT rehabilitation project.

The consortium designed and built the railway system from 1998 to 2000 and maintained the system from 2000 to 2012.

The DOTr official denied allegations raised by newspaper columnist Jarius Bondoc that the cost for the MRT rehabilitation has more than doubled from PHP7.5 billion to PHP18 billion.

In his column last Wednesday, Bondoc said MRT-3 owner Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC) has proposed to conduct the rehab for only PHP7.5 billion in 2016.

Wala naman technical capability ang MRTC nangongolekta lang yan ng renta mula sa DOTr at hindi naman siya talagang railway operatorat developer (MRTC has no technical capability; they only collect rents coming from the DOTr and they are not really a railway operator and developer), Batan said.

A team from the JICA conducted a comprehensive system inspection of the MRT-3 earlier this year in preparation for the signing of the loan agreement for the rehabilitation project.

From January to April this year, a JICA study team, composed of 150 Japanese and Filipino engineers, conducted a comprehensive system inspection of the MRT-3. JICA, then held a fact-finding mission in April to verify the results of the study, and subsequently, a loan appraisal mission for the project in May, Batan said in a text message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

The National Economic and Development Authority Board's Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee has approved the PHP22-billion MRT rehabilitation and maintenance project last August.

The upgrade of the MRT-3 which is set to start by January next year is projected to last for three and a half years.

The DOTr expects the operations of the MRT to gradually improve starting on the third quarter of next year. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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