DOTr says MRT 3 safe, but Poe wants 3rd party certification

Camille Elemia
DOTr says MRT 3 safe, but Poe wants 3rd party certification
The DOTr also urges the cancellation of the contract with maintenance provider Busan Universal Rail Inc (BURI), citing the daily inconvenience experienced by passengers

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) assured the public that riding the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT3) is “safe” amid continuous reports of problems.

DOTr Undersecretary for rails Cesar Chavez gave this assurance when asked about the condition of the train system during the resumption of the Senate hearing on the MRT3 mess.

“Sa mga kababayan natin lalo sa mananakay, ang MRT po ay safe na sasakyan. Lahat ng signaling operational. Maliban sa signaling system, we have 3 kinds of brake systems. Lahat ito installed,” Chavez told Senator Grace Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public services.

(To our fellowmen, especially to commuters, it is safe to ride the MRT. All signaling systems are operational. Aside from the signaling system, we have 3 kinds of brake systems. All these are installed.)

But Poe asked the DOTr to prioritize the certification of the safety of the MRT3.

“Ang sinasabi ko sa DOTr, dapat unahin nila ang kumpanya na magse-certify kung ang ating mga train ay tunay na ligtas. Sa ngayon, walang kumpanya na gumagawa nyan. Tayo’y umaasa lamang sa garantiya ni Undersecretary Chavez,” she said.

(What I’m telling the DOTr is they should prioritize the company that would certify that our trains are safe. Right now, there is no company that does that. We are only relying on the guarantee of Undersecretary Chavez.)

Chavez said the MRT3, in heeding the advice of maintenance provider Busan Universal Rail Inc (BURI), decreased the trains’ speed to 30kph for safety purposes.

Still, there are still some issues with the tracks as the government has yet to fully replace the aging tracks while Buri does not consistently conduct rail grinding to keep it sharp against rusts.

Chavez also earlier said BURI refuses to buy spareparts.

MRT3 consultants, however, are mum on the safety of the trains, saying they do not issue safety certifications.

Chavez said there still no independent body that could certifty to the train’s safety, but they’re working on it. At present, he said they are in talks with companies in Germany and Italy to test the trains, specifically bought from Dalian in China. It remains unclear if this would also include the current Czech-made trains being used.

Cancel maintenance contract with BURI

Chavez, in the same hearing, said the contract with maintenance provider BURI should be cancelled, citing the daily inconvenience experienced by passengers.

He also reiterated BURI’s refusal to buy spare parts, which are essential in maintaining the transit system.

“Ang posisyon namin, ang maintenance [contract] ay dapat i-terminate … We will respect due process. Pero ang posisyon ng opisina ko at ng Department of Transportation, wala ng mas matinding ebidensya na sa araw-araw na nahihirapan mga pasahero]. Meron din kaming dokumento ng series of derailments,” Chavez said.

(Our position is the maintenance contract should be terminated. We will respect due process but our office and the Department of Transportation’s position is there is no greater evidence than the daily sufferings of passengers. We also have documents of the series of derailments.)

According to MRT3 consultants, there have been at least 4 instances of trail derailment: April 17, 18, 30, and May 14.

The DOTr also earlier ordered BURI to explain why the contract with them should not be terminated.

Should the contract be terminated, Chavez assured the public the MRT3 service will not be affected.

“Dapat ba mag-worry ang mga mananakay? Hindi ho. Ginawa na namin yan sa LRT. We created a special order for a maintenance transition team,” he said.

(Should passengers worry? No. We also did the same with the LRT. We created a special order for a maintenance transition team.) – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com