The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said on Wednesday that it was considering returning the 48 overweight Metro Rail Transit (MRT) coaches to China, which cost the past administration P3.8 billion to purchase.
According to DOTr undersecretary for rails Cesar Chavez, DOTr secretary Arthur Tugade instructed them to get a third party qualifier to study whether the 48 coaches could still be used by the MRT.
“Ganito instructions ni Secretary Tugade (This is the instruction of Secretary Tugade). We can’t compromise the safety of our passengers. Therefore, anong ginawa ng Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Pakistan? Kumuha ng third party certifier (We should just get a third party certifier). So what did we do? Number one, (we got) internationally known certifier, based in Germany and other certifiers,” Chavez said.
“I already submitted a terms of reference to (DOTr Undersecretary for Legal Affairs and Procurement Reinier Paul Yebra) providing him all the documents, ‘yung request for quotation. In three months, after notice to proceed, anong ineexpect (what do we expect)? ‘Yung audit niyan sasabihin pwede ba tumakbo o hindi o ibabalik na sa China (The audit will inform us if the trains can still be used or should just be returned to China),” he added.
Chavez was responding to Senator Grace Poe’s concern during the finance committee hearing on the DOTr’s budget for 2018.
Poe, chairman of the Senate public services committee, expressed frustration over the government’s procurement of incompatible trains from China-based Dalian Corp. She asked Chavez if the DOTr could already start hiring another maintenance provider and replace Busan Universal Rail Inc. (Buri).
Chavez said they are still waiting for the certifier’s assessment.
“I think that’s very wise of you to get a third party certifier,” Poe said.
But the senator stressed that the transportation body should learn a lesson from the mistakes committed in the past administration.
She urged the DOTr to file cases against those responsible for the MRT mess, be it the supplier of the trains or former DOTr officials who gave the go signal for the procurement of defective trains.
“I think whoever is responsible whether it’s the supplier, we should take them to court. Whether it’s the one who made the decision. It’s not a case of vendetta. It’s a case of justice for the public that’s been suffering and now were risking their lives because we’re making do with what we have given the situation but every day is a risk,” Poe said.