No Sumitomo rehab proposal for MRT-3 — Transport dep’t

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THE Department of Transportation (DoTr) clarified on Wednesday that Sumitomo Corp. did not offer to take charge of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) rehabilitation, though the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) remains the source of funding for the project.

“To reiterate, there is no offer from Sumitomo Corp. to undertake the scope of the JICA-financed MRT-3 Rehabilitation and Maintenance Project, and much more, there is no offer from Sumitomo Corp. to do it for P7.5 billion,” it said in a statement.

DoTr issued the statement in response to “erroneous claims” that Sumitomo Corp. is offering to rehabilitate the commuter rail system through Metro Rail Transit Corp. (MRTC) headed by Robert John L. Sobrepeña.

MRTC was formerly in charge of the construction and maintenance of MRT-3. It submitted a rehabilitation proposal to DoTr twice last year, in August and October, but both were rejected.

“Aside from being signed by Mr. Sobrepeña and MRTC President Frederick C. Parayno, and claiming to have been based on ‘discussions with Sumitomo Corp.,’ the Sobrepeña- MRTC Option does not appear to have been prepared by any railway expert,” DoTr said.

It also expressed its faith in JICA’s processes, as the aid agency has conducted a two-month review of the MRT-3 to identify the cost, scope and schedule of the rehabilitation. It said in May that the project will cost P16.985 billion and will take 43 months.

“The DoTr maintains that it is borrowing from Japan to finally, and once and for all, fix MRT-3 with a comprehensive, single point of responsibility solution, delivered by a highly qualified and highly experienced provider, backed by the government of one of the leading railway powerhouse countries in the world,” it said.

Last year, Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) and Ayala Corp. submitted an unsolicited proposal to take over the MRT-3. Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade said last week that the government will decide by year’s end about granting the consortium original proponent status (OPS).

If the consortium is granted OPS, the proposal will still have to be approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) board and then subjected to a Swiss challenge. Under the Swiss challenge, other companies may submit counter-proposals which the original proponent has the option to match.

Transportation Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John R. Batan told reporters recently that MPIC is currently aligning the terms of its proposal to the terms of the JICA-funded rehabilitation.

“What we are doing with respect to the MRT-3 O&M unsolicited proposal is making sure that it harmonizes with the scope of the JICA rehab. We do not want an overlap, largely because we don’t want two different parties doing the same things,” he said. — Denise A. Valdez