Real saboteurs behind MRT ‘glitches’
We in Agham believe that the “glitches” that interrupted MRT train services last Jan. 8 were a consequence more of poor management and maintenance than of sabotage. Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya’s claim that it was the result of sabotage was a pathetic attempt to cover up the incompetence and corruption in the Department of Transportation and Communications. And it’s not the first time his department has used the same “excuse.” In 2014, APT-Global, MRT’s maintenance contractor, blamed sabotage for the overshooting of an MRT train at the Taft station.
As early as 2011, the former maintenance provider of MRT had warned that “eventual collapse of the rolling stock system and the “wayside system” may happen if drastic and immediate changes will not be made.”
For public safety and optimum efficiency, MRT operators should have been conducting an eight-year general overhaul cycle, as per a contract agreement. Since going full operation in 2000, MRT only underwent a single overhaul—in 2006 under its 12-year contractor, Sumitomo. The next overhaul was scheduled in 2014, but no such thing has not been done until now.
In a 2014 audit report, it was emphasized that the train systems’ parts—traction motors, sensors, rotational spares, electric and air-conditioning systems, and gearbox housing, among other critical parts—were already in the state of obsolescence. But no significant effort was made by the Aquino administration or Abaya to improve MRT’s condition. Instead, they contracted another incompetent private maintenance providers to take care of the MRT system.
In order to correct the continuing mismanagement and neglect of our MRT system, the government must have direct control and a strong policy framework in managing our train system and in developing our rail industry. The improvement of public transport and its rehabilitation can only be achieved under state control.
Based on research, cities with state-controlled train systems, such as those of Tokyo, London, Berlin, Beijing and New York, have earned a reputation for efficiency. This only shows that a nationalized transport system is the effective and viable way for government to establish a safe, affordable and efficient train system.
As a concrete action, the government must revoke all onerous contracts with private companies and take over the operations of the rail line. Incompetent government officials and administrators should be removed from office.
If there are really saboteurs, it is the Aquino-Abaya clique, and the victim is the Filipino people. And this clique is depriving them of their right to safe, efficient and affordable mass transport system.
—FENY COSICO, secretary general, Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (Agham), [email protected]
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