Valenzuela City Congressman Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian today urged the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to address first the safety concerns of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) -3 before going full blast in the construction of the MRT extension in Bulacan.
Gatchalian made the appeal a week after the government green-lit financial guarantees for the MRT-7 elevated railway line going to Bulacan which will be mostly funded by an official development assistance loan from the Japanese government.
Gatchalian, who is a senior vice chair of the House committee on Metro Manila development, said the DOTC should prioritize finding and applying solutions to the MRT-3’s malfunctions to ensure the safety of commuters.
The solon stood firm in his recommendation for DOTC to hire a private firm to oversee the train’s operations, saying it will be more efficient in management as it will have to follow a strict set of performance targets or else be penalized or replaced by another company. Such business model is already being used by state transportation agencies in Europe and in the US.
“If the MRT-3’s safety issues will not be taken cared of before the line is stretched to the Bulacan province, the government will only be cooking up future mishaps or, worse, another disaster,” he said. “There is an urgent need to change the MRT management and improve maintenance.”
The MRT-3 made a series of reported glitches this year starting last March, the biggest of which was the ramming of a wayward coach through a barrier at Taft Avenue station, injuring over 30 people.
“The DOTC should make sure to select a competent maintenance service provider firm this time, considering that P2.25 billion worth of taxpayers’ money will be shelled out for the three-year maintenance contract,” said Gatchalian.
Gatchalian also asked his fellow government officials, especially those from the DOTC, to ride the MRT-3 without VIP treatment on a rush hour during Monday morning or Friday night so they can see for themselves the problems and difficulties being encountered by commuters on a daily basis.
“This will allow government officials to know the plight of the riding public and to understand their anger at how the government mismanages the country’s train systems,” he said.
Gatchalian rode the MRT-3 two months ago to see for himself the daily woes of commuters as he filed a house resolution calling for an inquiry over the train’s unsafe services. (Monica Cantilero)