With repair yet to commence, LRT-2 sticks to June re-opening of closed stations
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - February 27, 2020 - 5:27pm

MANILA, Philippines — Contractors for the repair of decommissioned stations of the Light Rail Transit-2 (LRT-2) are yet to be selected, putting at risk promises by railway authorities to resume the train line's full operations by June.

“We're implementing an alternative procurement process and are now looking for a third-party consultant to lead the restoration of the damaged railway,” Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) spokesperson Hernando Cabrera said in a hearing of the House transportation committee last Feb. 26.

Jobel Belarmino, officer-in-charge of LRTA’s office of the deputy administrator, said what is completed so far is the bidding process for the equipment needed in the repair of Anonas, Katipunan and Santolan in Pasig stations that were damaged by fire last October.

With the closure of the three stations, LRT-2 currently runs only from Recto in Manila to Cubao in Quezon City.

Despite the typical tedious state procurement process that may be encountered, Belarmino said LRTA is "confident that in June or prior to June, we can complete the repair and that the provisional operation will be implemented.”

READ: Anonas, Katipunan and Santolan LRT-2 stations to be repaired by end of June 2020

A resumption of operations for the three stations by June or early June would mean the government beat its self-imposed deadline of fixing the train line within six months or until July from the date of damage.

But the pace by which government procurement progress does not attract optimism. Data from the Budget department showed the Department of Transportation, which oversees LRTA, only spent 57% of the total notices of cash allocation (NCA) released as of January.

NCA is a document from the Budget agency which implementing departments like DOTr presents to the Bureau of the Treasury to secure checks. When an NCA is utilized, it means agencies secured checks from the Treasury to pay for their contractual obligations.

A higher NCA utilization indicates an agency is able to spend quickly their funds, which indicates faster procurement. In January, DOTr’s NCA utilization rate of 57% fell below the average of 66% for all departments, data showed. 

Apart from procurement delays, Jedd Ugay, chief mobility officer at AltMobility PH, a commuter advocacy group, said the train system would also have to be tested once the repair is concluded.

“That should be part of the whole process. I hope they are transparent about the timeline of each process/milestone needed to resume revenue operations from Cubao to Santolan,” Ugay said in a text message to Philstar.com

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