MRT-3 mess: Maintenance firm blames ‘obsolete’ parts, system

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - June 16, 2014 - 12:00am

At the speed China is leveling into airstrips five trespassed shoals in Philippine waters, it would finish more infrastructure works than the P-Noy admin by 2016.

*      *      *

On the eve of the filing of no-bail plunder raps against an actor-senator, watchful foreign diplomats marveled, he instinctively hams it up on the Senate stage and sings adieu to colleagues. It’s more fun in the Philippines.

*      *      *

CB&T (Comm Builders and Technology Inc.) is the experienced firm with which two-month-old, undercapitalized PH Trams partnered to bag the P517.7-milion MRT-3 maintenance in Oct. 2012-Aug. 2013. There have been three major incidents and seven accidents from then to the present (mostly listed in Gotcha, 30 May 2014).

Roehl B. Bacar, CB&T president, wrote:

“Some insights on facts in your articles. I agree, as you correctly labeled, that for years already it has been the same area under heated discussion.

“Sometime in Aug. 2012, Wilson de Vera and company (Federico Remo of Phil-Exim Bank, [Manolo] Boyet Maralit, and a representative of a signaling company) convinced me to make a maintenance proposal to MRTC, owner of MRT-3. Their representations included contacts and business collaboration with Inekon for the obsolete Czech parts and the obsolete signaling system’s OEM. They were able to bring to Manila the signaling company to present a CTC (signaling upgrade) proposal to MRTC Board thru the Chairman, and an MPIC representative. At that time, we were already in coordination with MRTC and MPIC, and willing to work with them. In the process, we prepared and presented our maintenance proposal. I was convinced in their offer to take the burden from my company to source out the obsolete parts and their ability to bring in the signaling group of the OEM to Manila to give the presentation.

“DOTC decided to bid out the contract due to a notice that Sumitomo will discontinue providing the services if MRTC and DOTC do not pay the pending special works billings and the annual escalation cost as prescribed in the BLT contract. Our group was equally prepared with TESP in terms of a tender and turnover. DOTC’s option was only to acquire the services of a qualified contractor in the market -- CB&T being a lead partner in LRT-1 maintenance contract.

“We were the lowest bidder and the BAC minutes will prove that the sole purpose of PH Trams as partner was to source out spare parts from the Czech Republic. The joint venture was to be formed only if the MRT-3 contract was acquired; hence, PH Trams shall pursue its business registration. The BAC agreed and gave PH Trams three days to provide the business permit.

“What was in it for PH Trams? It wanted the spare parts fund allocation for it to purchase the requirement for the contract, and the subcontract of maintenance should go to the OEM of the signaling system. CB&T was to cover the rest of the subsystems. After taking over on Oct. 20, 2012, I got the opportunity to meet Czech Amb. Josef Rychtar during the birthday celebration in Las Piñas of one of the PH Trams incorporators. The ambassador confirmed his support to provide me parts, when I was introduced as a prospective contractor of MRT-3. I perceived that the ambassador, during that Nov. affair, was fully supporting his consultants who are incorporators of PH Trams.

“On the technical issues: The system faults are not due to the incapability of the Filipino contractors but the obsolescence of the subsystem not properly addressed by the owners.

“Fire underneath the train Nov. 3: caused by a line fuse whose design was patterned by CKD from a Siemens line fuse in 1995. Siemens recalled this line fuse design years later due to safety issues. During TESP time there were four recorded train burnings due to these line fuses. Our company took over on Oct. 20, 2012. With monthly periodic check, the last on maintenance record was done by TESP on Oct. 8, 2012, due again for periodic check by us on Nov. 8.

“Signaling system: Signaling OEM in 2009 had made MRTC and DOTC, including maintenance contractor, fully aware that the system was obsolete, beyond maintenance and spare parts discontinued.

“Traction motors have exceeded lifespan of 1,000,000 kms. At present it is about 1.6m kms. Overall wear and tear, including metal fatigue, is beyond regular maintaining. Motors now use up thousands of carbon brushes per month, instead of 584 pieces every six months. This technical maintenance lapse extends beyond the six-month contract.

“Traction power: The seven substations are designed only for seven trains in each direction any time. To ascertain keeping up with the volume of passengers, DOTC requested to run 20 trains, and in so doing, aggravated overuse. Traction power cannot be resolved by maintenance, but to increase its capacity to accommodate more trains. Even if more trains are purchased, without adding power supply generators, these will not run.

“On a cannibalized train left by TESP: This goes to show that TESP had problems with parts supply – due to the non-renewal of the maintenance contract, so no effective procurement plan to consider lead time in delivery of special major parts. Note that obsolete parts are manufactured with delivery time of at least a year.

“Original Equipment Manufacturers manifested that, since 2005, TESP had not performed proper maintenance, thus the deterioration. CB&T commissioned assessments by them of each of the subsystems.

“All these omissions and lapses were exposed only when the DOTC and the Filipino contractors took over, for public safety, in Oct. 2012. For 15 years the faults were never made public by the previous contractor and were also kept within the underground depot by MRT-3 officials. The maintenance records, manuals from Sumitomo, BLT warranty, and assessments provided by CB&T should be reviewed to restrain speculations of non-technical media and the public. In 2009 a third party assessment was made of the facilities. It is only proper that the DOTC releases the results.”

*      *      *

“Manila,” “Beh, Buti Nga,” “Pers Lab,” “Annie Batungbakal,” “Bongga Ka Day,” “Bandang Pinoy,” “Miss Universe,” “Panaginip,” “Langit Na Naman,” “Ikaw Pa Rin.”

Relive these ‘70s Pinoy Sound hits and more, as Hotdog regroups in a fundraiser for victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda: June 17, 8:30 p.m., Dusit Hotel, Makati.

Ticket includes a drink and munchies; for reservation and delivery, text Susan or Betsy: (0922) 7531263.

*      *      *

Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ, (882-AM).

Gotcha archives on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jarius-Bondoc/1376602159218459, or The STAR website http://www.philstar.com/author/Jarius%20Bondoc/GOTCHA

E-mail: jariusbondoc@gmail.com


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with