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LRT consortium not demanding P7.5 B – Abaya

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The private group that bagged the contract to operate, maintain and extend the Light Rail Transit Line 1 has never made any claim from the government for P7.5 billion in penalty payments, Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said yesterday.

“(There is) no truth to whoever is claiming or talking about the P7.5 billion,” Abaya said in a text message.

The militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) earlier said the DOTC had made a request to the Department of Budget and Management for the release of P7.519 billion in penalty payment to the Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC). Bayan said the request was contained in a letter to DBM.

The DOTC chief said he was unaware of any such letter of request.

The LRMC is composed of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., Ayala Corp. and Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings.

Since no claim has been made, Abaya said there is no reason for the DOTC to make any request for release of penalty payments.

DOTC spokesman Michael Arthur Sagcal said the release of penalty payments follows a rigorous process.

“A claim must first be made, which would then be assessed in mediation and, if necessary, arbitration. As no claims have been made by either side, there is no basis for such allegations,” he said.

Last week, LRMC chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan denied the consortium had made any claims for penalty payments.

“Speaking on the alleged claim whoever is making, there has been no claim principally because we have not taken over the system. How can a claim ripen? For us to lodge claim now, there is no basis,” Pangilinan said.

“We still don’t have a personality. We are just the awardee under the bidding last year,” Pangilinan said.

He also clarified LRMC would not immediately raise fares despite the current fare level falling below what is stipulated under the concession agreement.

Under the P65-billion LRT 1 Cavite Extension and Operation and Maintenance Project, LRMC is also responsible for the operation and maintenance of the train system for 32 years.

No quick fix

The LRMC also asked the public yesterday not to expect a quick fix to the train system’s problems.

In a statement, LRMC said it took over operations of the stretch of LRT 1 between Roosevelt station and Baclaran station from the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) and the DOTC on Sept. 12.

While the LRMC is committed to improving the public’s riding experience as soon as possible, improvements would not happen overnight, the group said.

“LRMC is taking over a train system that is severely deteriorated. It is the oldest train line in Metro Manila where maintenance has been a challenge over the past years,” LRMC said.

Of the 100 light rail vehicles committed to be at LRMC’s disposal upon takeover, only 77 are in running condition.

“It will take time to fix the fleet and restore the system to optimal operating levels. The real benefit of an improved train system will not be felt by the riding public immediately but will come in due course, particularly when the new trains are delivered by the government as part of its obligations under the Concession Agreement, which trains are scheduled to arrive in 2017, barring any delays,” LRMC said.

For now, LRMC will start working on improving facilities at all stations for the safety and security of commuters.

Nine of the 11 substations are being readied for rehabilitation.

“After months of preparation, we are pleased to take on the operations of LRT 1,” Pangilinan said. – With Mike Frialde

 

 

 

ABAYA ACIRC AYALA CORP BAGONG ALYANSANG MAKABAYAN BAYAN CAVITE EXTENSION AND OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE PROJECT CLAIM CONCESSION AGREEMENT DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT LRMC PANGILINAN
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