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Solon wants DOTC, MRT officials to take responsibility over accident

A lawmaker from Metro Manila wants the Department of Transportation and Communications or DOTC to take responsibility over Metro Rail Transit or MRT accident last August 13.


Valenzuela City Congressman Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian said DOTC and MRT top management should learn from Malaysia’s MRT Corp in handling cases of accident.


Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid recently resigned from his post as chief executive of Malaysian MRT after a site accident killed one worker and sent two more missing.


“There would not be a ‘human error’ on the part of the personnel if the management is doing its job of keeping the trains safe for the riding public,” Gatchalian said.


“Just this year, the (Philippine) MRT has suffered glitches which in turn affected the passengers’ riding experience and even sometimes caused them injuries. A vital key to preventing mishaps is the train’s maintenance, which is contracted to Autre Porte Technique (APT) Global, Inc,” he added.


Gatchalian, a senior vice chair on the House committee on Metro Manila development, issued the statement a few days after DOTC said human error caused the MRT accident that injured 38 riders.


The result of the DOTC investigation virtually absolved the MRT management as well as the maintenance contractor from any accountability.
The DOTC chief was quoted in news reports as saying that the contract to the said firm will likely be extended because there is “no choice.”


However, Gatchalian reiterated the need to hire a new private contractor for the train’s management saying it would be more efficient in handling the train’s operations, including maintenance, because it is being paid to do so following a set of performance targets and penalties.


Tapping a private operator with a good track record, he added, will reduce patronage politics because it will be selective in the firms it will transact with.


“A private firm will deliver high-quality services because it will be fined and be replaced anytime if it does not comply with the agreed performance metrics,” Gatchalian explained.


“Thus, if MRT will delegate to another company some functions like maintenance, it has to make sure that the latter also has the capability and resources to deliver services of the highest standards,” he added.


Such business model of delegating management functions to a private contractor is already being used by some US agencies such as the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. (Monica Cantilero)