MANILA, Philippines – The government has turned over only 78 operational light rail vehicles (LRVs) of the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT1) – less than what was promised to private concessionaire Light Rail Manila Consortium (LRMC).
LRMC – a consortium of Ayala Corporation, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC), and Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Private Limited – on Saturday, September 12, took over the operations, maintenance, and extension of LRT1.
It was in September 2014 when LRMC bagged the P64.9-billion ($1.39-billion) LRT1 Cavite extension public-private partnership (PPP) project, which will extend the train line from Baclaran to Bacoor, Cavite.
“Under the concession agreement, the government should turn over 100 operational LRVs. We only turned over 78 operational LRVs,” LRT Authority (LRTA) Administrator Honorito Chaneco told lawmakers during a hearing at the House of Representatives on Tuesday, September 15.
He added that LRTA has some share in the responsibility if problem occurs in operations.
For LRMC, “the real benefit of an improved train system will not be felt by the riding public immediately.”
“It will come in due course, particularly when the new trains are delivered by the government as part of its obligations under the concession agreement, which trains are scheduled to arrive in 2017, barring any delays,” Ayala and MPIC said in a joint statement disclosed to the local bourse on Monday, September 14.
LRMC plans to start rehabilitation in 9 of the 11 substations.
The consortium will operate and maintain LRT1 for 32 years.
The LRT1 PPP deal involves rehabilitation of the existing 21-kilometer (km) line and an 11.7-km extension from Baclaran to Bacoor, Cavite, that will lengthen the system to 32.4 km from the current 20.7 km.
Asked why the government failed to hand over 100 operational LRVs, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said: “When we made the concession agreement, we were confident that we will be able to turn over 100 operational LRVs. We were not able to replace some of the damaged LRVs because we were affected by the SC (Supreme Court) ruling on DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program).”
In July 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that certain schemes under the DAP were unconstitutional, about 3 years after the spending program was implemented by Malacañang.
“The budget for LRVs was already allocated, but we cannot utilize it because it was on hold,” Abaya told lawmakers.
LRT1 Cavite extension project is one of the 10 PPP deals awarded by the government thus far.
Of the P43.5 billion ($931.23 million) budget request for 2016, the Transportation department requested a subsidy of P1.42 billion ($30.40 million) for LRTA, with the agency promising to field one train every 3 to 4 minutes during peak hours in its Roosevelt-Baclaran Line 1 and one every 5 to 6 minutes in its Pasig-Recto Line.
The DOTC also requested a P6.75 billion ($144.50 million) “construction budget” for a couple of LRT extension deals, such as P1.62 billion ($34.68 million) for the LRT1 Cavite extension project and P2.9 billion ($62.08 million) for the LRT Line 2 extension project. — Rappler.com
$1 = P46.71