Saturday, May 24, 2014

Abaya Vows Transparenecy at House Probe on MRT-3 Extort Try

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Secretary Jun Abaya of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) vows to uphold transparency regarding the allegations made by Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar that certain government officials tried to extort money from him in exchange for the contract to supply the Metro Rail Transit III (MRT-3) system with additional coaches. Abaya emphasized that his agency bid the project out in line with its policy of open and public bidding, which resulted in government saving billions of pesos.

The DOTC chief and other officials from the DOTC and MRT-3 Office have been invited to appear before the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability of the House of Representatives on May 27. So has the Czech envoy, who accused MRT-3 General Manager Al Vitangcol of attempted extortion through a private citizen.

Representative Oscar Rodriguez of the 3rd District of Pampanga, also Chairman of the Committee, scheduled the probe following separate resolutions filed by Representatives Neri Colmenares and Toby Tiangco.

Abaya has previously pointed out that Inekon, the Czech company which Rychtar pushed for, wanted not only to secure the supply contract through a government-to-government arrangement instead of public bidding, but to do so at a price that it would dictate: US$ 3.35 Million for each coach, or $174.46 Million for 52 coaches.

The winning bidder, Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Company, offered to supply 48 coaches for only $1.8 Million each, or a total of $86.4 Million.

During his brief stint as DOTC chief, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas implemented a policy of bidding out all big-ticket projects, to prevent price manipulation and to save money for the government. Abaya has continued implementing this policy of open and transparent bidding.

One columnist has claimed that the Dalian coaches are incompatible with the MRT-3 system, concluding that there is no P 3.348 Billion savings. He added that the coaches are only 19.8 meters in length, “while the current terminal configuration is designed for 30-meter length cars.”

Not true, said DOTC Spokesperson Migs Sagcal. The winning bidder, he said, will supply coaches that measure 30.3 meters each, exactly what the technical specifications call for. In fact, MRT-3 stations are designed for a 4-car configuration, which is why the current 3-car configuration is shorter than the station platforms. The 48 new coaches will upgrade the 3-car set-up to 4-car configurations once they are delivered.

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