DoTr in talks for Sumitomo to maintain MRT-3

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THE GOVERNMENT is considering Metro Rail Transit (MRT)-3 builder and former maintenance provider Sumitomo Corp. for the maintenance and rehabilitation of the MRT-3 system.

In a statement, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) said  discussions with the Japanese government are ongoing to rehire Sumitomo as the maintenance provider of the MRT, to replace Busan Universal Rail, Inc. (BURI), whose maintenance contract was terminated by the DoTr earlier this month.

The new maintenance and rehabilitation contract will have a term of three years, and will include the rehabilitation and restoration of the system to its “original performance standards.”

“High-level discussions with the Government of Japan are ongoing to pave the way for DoTr’s direct engagement of Sumitomo Corp. and its technical partner Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, under a Government to Government (G2G) Official Development Assistance (ODA) platform,” the DoTr said.

The DoTr said that the joint venture of Sumitomo and Mitsubishi Heavy is being considered due to their previous experience with the MRT.  “The joint venture of Sumitomo Corp. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is being closely considered due to their background and experience with the MRT-3 — they designed and built the system from 1998 to 2000, and maintained the system from 2000 to 2012.”

The then Department of Transportation and Communications in 2012 did not renew the maintenance contract of Sumitomo.

The DoTr added that it is evaluating the unsolicited proposal of Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC), a P20-billion investment to rehabilitate the train system, as well as the handling of operations for a period of 30 to 32 years. The agency last month granted original proponent status to LRMC, and the proposal will “soon be endorsed” to the National Economic and Development Authority for its evaluation. 

LRMC currently manages the Light Rail Transit (LRT)-1. The consortium is composed of Metro Pacific Investment Corp.’s Metro Pacific Light Rail Corp., Ayala Corp.’s AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp. and Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Pte. Ltd.

Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade earlier this month said that the MRT-3 will have a new maintenance provider next year.

The DoTr said that the MRT transition team has enough manpower, after directly hiring more than 450 former BURI employees, and paid their salaries “in full and on time,” after what it says are months of “delayed and partial salaries.” — Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo