LRT lines mismanaged while officials got millions in illegal incentives – COA

MANILA, Philippines – From 2007 to 2011, the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) paid its officials and employees over P400 million in unauthorized allowances even as it entered into questionable deals with contractors that mismanaged the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Lines 1 and 2, state auditors said.

In its 122-page Special Audit Report on the LRTA, the Commission on Audit (COA) said the LRTA failed to ensure that the contractors tapped to maintain the two LRT lines delivered on their commitment to make timely repairs and maintain the operations of the rail system.

The audit agency noted the violations committed by LRT1 contractor CBT-PMP-GRAS Joint Venture and LRT2 contractor TSPA Joint Venture.

CBT-PMP-GRAS Joint Venture had a P1.29-billion contract to maintain the LRT1 from January 1, 2009, to December 31, 2011.

Meanwhile, TSPA Joint Venture was paid P1.059 billion to maintain LRT2 from June 16, 2007, to June 15, 2012.

The COA audit was conducted for 10 months, covering the years 2007 to 2010. 

Unauthorized incentives

According to the audit report, the LRTA granted millions in unauthorized incentives to its officials and employes even as the LRT lines were left to deteriorate because of mismanagement.

From January 1, 2007, to December 31, 2011, COA said the LRTA granted P400.448 million worth of incentives "without legal basis." These included:

COA also questioned the LRTA's basis for determining the cost of the maintenance contracts, which it said were "not supported with detailed estimates." The bids presented by the contractors likewise lacked a detailed breakdown of service costs, which were quoted in lump sum amounts.

Despite repeated requests for copies of detailed estimates, COA said none was submitted to its audit team. 

Auditors also said that the LRTA later adjusted the contracts, but lacked reference to detailed bid documents and the original contract costs.

“As a general rule, any adjustment in the contract cost should be based on the original bid cost,” auditors said.

Failed commitment

Both contractors tapped to maintain the two LRT lines were paid in full by the LRTA, even as they failed to deliver their commitment to maintain a set number of light rail vehicles (LRVs) running, COA said.

A minimum of 114 LRVs should be running on LRT1, and 16 trainsets for LRT2. But COA said only 107 LRVs were running for Line 1, and 13 trainsets on Line 2.

The contractors failed to meet their obligations under the contract, routinely missing the number of LRVs it had to keep operational during heavy weekday commuter traffic from January to September 2010.

But despite this, LRTA failed to "make the necessary cost reduction,” COA said.

Auditors also found rampant cases of LRVs being listed on both the train availability report and the preventive maintenance roster.

“A number of LRVs were included in both reports covering the same periods. In other words, some LRVs were reported to be operating and at the same time under preventive maintenance. The LRVs can either be operating or under preventive maintenance but not both,” COA said. – Rappler.com