Poe to call ‘emergency’ Senate hearing on MRT

By on January 8, 2016

(Photo courtesy of Sen. Grace Poe's Facebook page)
(Photo courtesy of Sen. Grace Poe’s Facebook page)

MANILA—Senator Grace Poe said on Friday she would call for an emergency hearing in the Senate following reports that the maintenance service provider of the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) has backed out of its awarded contract.

Poe, who is the chairperson of the Senate Subcommittee on Public Services, expressed alarm that MRT trains would be running without proper maintenance, posing safety risks to more than 600,000 commuters who use the MRT-3 everyday.

”We have an emergency situation that requires another hearing that will be set in the coming days,” Poe said in a press statement.

Busan Transport Corp., the Korean firm and minority partner in a consortium that includes four Filipino firms without technical know-how on railway maintenance, is said to be backing out of the PhP3.8-billion, three-year deal with the Departyment of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) for fear of lawsuits related to the nature of the contract awarding.

The consortium, which bagged the contract last month in closed-door negotiations with DOTC officials instead of public bidding, was supposed to take over MRT-3 maintenance from PH Trams on Jan. 6.

”We have been asking them whether their Korean partner has technical expertise, how many percent their ownership? And I think its ownership is only five percent and now it backed out,” Poe said.

Poe said the Senate Subcommittee on Public Services would have to check with the DOTC regarding the availability of Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and others who were involved in the maintenance contract awarding.

The last hearing on the MRT maintenance mess was held on Nov. 9. It was attended by Abaya and other top DOTC officials.

”If you remember during our last hearing, they gave deadlines on when the new trains will be delivered, when the escalators will be repaired, so we decided to call a meeting,” Poe said.

Until now, however, Poe noticed the escalators and other MRT facilities are still not functioning. (PNA)