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Amid calls for accountability for train crash, gov’t urged to take over MRT

Posted On 2014 Aug 19
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An unusually big number of commuters stand shoulder-to-shoulder while waiting for their train ride at the Metro Rail Transit (MRT)-3 station on Taft Avenue and Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) in Pasay City on Thursday morning (March 27, 2014). The commuters, coming from as far as Cavite, are bound for their places of work in Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig, San Juan and Quezon City. (MNS photo)

An unusually big number of commuters stand shoulder-to-shoulder while waiting for their train ride at the Metro Rail Transit (MRT)-3 station on Taft Avenue and Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) in Pasay City on Thursday morning (March 27, 2014). The commuters, coming from as far as Cavite, are bound for their places of work in Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig, San Juan and Quezon City. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – The government has been urged to take over the management of the Metro Rail Transit 3 and to hold accountable the Department of Transportation and Communications and private investors for the Wednesday crash of one of the mass transit system’s trains that left dozens injured.

Bayan Muna party-list Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate also called on Malacanang to suspend all new contracts involving the MRT3 and review all its past deals.

“This accident is deplorable for the simple fact that it could have been prevented with the proper maintenance of the trains,” Colmenares said.

“What we have been saying these past months has come true and we want the Department of Transportation and Communication and the operations and maintenance contractor to be held accountable,” he added.

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said it is time for government to take over the MRT3 and fix the long-standing problem of the train system.

“In the meantime, the Department of Transportation and Communications and the private investors and private maintenance firm APT should be held accountable for the poor state of the train system that has been described as an accident waiting to happen,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said.

He noted that taxpayers are paying $1.3 million, or P57 million, a month to APT, to which the DOTC awarded a one-year maintenance contract.

“There is definitely a problem with the privatized maintenance of the trains and the poor services and frequent problems encountered by commuters. It is right to ask, what happened to the payments to the private maintenance firms?” Reyes added.

In 1997, the private Metro Rail Transit Corp. entered into a build-lease-transfer contract with the DOTC to build the MRT3 with a put-up equity of US$190 million. The government has since been paying for the project.

Over the years, the MRTC has retained control of the operations and development of the MRT3, and has been earning from the development rights payments of commercial rights and development of the 16-hectare depot site, including all concessions to develop air and ground spaces.

In 2010, state banks like the Development Bank of the Philippines and the Land Bank acquired controlling interest in MRT3.

Last year, President Benigno Aquino III issued Executive Order No. 126 directing the DOTC and the Department of Finance to buy out the MRTC for P56 billion.

In a separate statement, the Train Riders Network said Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and MRT3 officer-in-charge Honorito Chaneco should be held liable for Wednesday’s accident.

“DOTC’s assistance to those injured is only a pittance … The commuters have long been silently seething in anger due to being denied the services that they have long deserved,” James Relativo of TREN said.

“This incident is a consequence of the gross negligence on part of both the government and the private Metro Rail Transit Corporation. The MRTC oversees the maintenance of the MRT-3, while the Department of Transportation and Communication oversees its operations,” the group added. (MNS)

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