MRT3 needs unsolicited, bundled upgrades – LRT1 contractor

Mick Basa
MRT3 needs unsolicited, bundled upgrades – LRT1 contractor

Mark Z. Saludes

Instead of rolling out MRT3 projects per piece, the government could expedite much-needed upgrades for the system in one bundle, says the maintenance contractor of LRT1

MANILA, Philippines – The government should welcome unsolicited proposals on how to overhaul the Metro Railway Transit Line 3 (MRT3), rather than setting bidding terms that allegedly hinder much-needed improvements in the system, a maintenance contractor for another public train line said.

Roehl Bacar, president of Commbuilders and Technology Philippines Corporation (CB&T), said unsolicited proposals for MRT3 gives interested parties more liberty to propose upgrades to the 17-kilometer public transportation system.

CB&T is the maintenance contractor of Light Railway Transit Line 1 (LRT1).

“In my opinion also, they (government officials) are not able to provide correct terms of reference,” Bacar told Rappler in an exclusive interview Monday, January 19.

Bacar questioned how the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) rolled out maintenance upgrades for the MRT3, which were split into 11 projects with a combined cost of P10 billion ($223.96 million*).

“How will DOTC [deal with] that if they awarded the contract with 4 companies doing 4 types of work?” Bacar asked.

In September 2014, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya explained that the MRT3 projects had to be divided since no single company is an expert in providing all of the services they are bidding out.

The projects include the acquisition of 48 brand new train cars; a long-term maintenance contract; ancillary system upgrade; signaling system upgrade; rail track replacement; radio communication system upgrade; elevators and escalators replacement; and a construction of a footbridge at the North Avenue station.

Bundle, unsolicited contacts

But if CB&T consultant Rolf Johann Bieri were to be asked, bundled and unsolicited proposals coming from companies should have expedited these projects.

The unsolicited proposals, then, could be subjected to a Swiss challenge, said Bieri.

“You need to believe the people working 50-60 years in the field, and not somebody who is an engineer who has spent 3 years working in Dubai,” he said.

The rollout of MRT3 projects were intended to follow a schedule, but some of them face delays due to bid postponements.

For instance, the DOTC experienced delays in acquiring the 48 new trains when an MRT shareholder asked a court to stop government from acquiring them.

Also, MRT3’s maintenance contract was deferred twice when no bidders showed on the day the 3-year, P2.2-billion ($49.27 million) bid documents were due.

Prospective bidders raised concern on the amount of government-imposed penalties on the maintenance contractor for certain violations, on top of the key performance indicators to be delivered.

On Tuesday, January 20, the DOTC reported failure of bid for the project since none from the interested companies submitted their bids.

CB&T had opted out from the bidding although it is the current maintenance provider for LRT1.

Earlier 2012, CB&T went into partnership with Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corporation (PH Trams) for an interim maintenance contract, which is the basis of a graft complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman against Abaya and 20 others.

In its complaint on September 25, 2014, the Ombudsman Field Investigation Office (FIO) alleged that Abaya and former MRT3 General Manager Al Vitangcol III are criminally liable for awarding an MRT3 interim maintenance contract without public bidding–


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