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No MRT 3 buyout

Transport Sec. Joseph Emilio Abaya is trying his best to divert the MRT-3 issue. The railway’s frequent accidents and breakdowns are due to corrupt non-upkeep. But he claims that the Department of Transportation and Communications needs to buy out the private builder-owner MRT Corp. for failure to upgrade the line. I keep raising the fact that he has yet to talk to Fil-Estate, Roberto Sobrepeña who heads MRT Holdings Continue reading

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Duty Free Shopping is more fun in the Philippines

A new Duty Free Fiesta Mall awaits our balikbayans as the travel retail store undergoes its grandest renovation yet.  For the past six months, the Fiesta Mall underwent an unbelievable renovation under the leadership of French interior designer Philippe Larose. Duty Free Philippines Chief Operating Officer Lorenzo “Enchong” Formoso III says this is part of their goal to make the Fiesta Mall “at par with other global retail stores around the world, but still with a Filipino touch.”
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MRT Shutdown

It’s on the news that Department of Transportation and Communications is planning to close the MRT for repairs and I don’t agree with the plan because they never really thought of the back up plan  Here are some of my questions in mind:

1. Sec Jun Abaya, Do you have a back up plan should you decide to Halt the train operations? What will happen to the commuters during the MRT Shutdown?The MRT-3 halted its operations for more than an hour due to a defective track. Some experts have warned that the elevated train system “may collapse anytime” due to poor maintenance. MRT Holdings Inc. II (MRTH-II), the majority shareholder of MRT Corp., also said passenger safety should always be the priority.MRT officer-in-charge Renato San Jose said work is underway to fix the dilapidated tracks. He explained that the rails used by the MRT-3 have the same specifications as those of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 2.

2. How long do you plan to shut it down? They never really said anything about how long they plan to do so.

3..What happens if you don’t open on that particular timeframe? This is another question that needs to be answered.

4. Did you discuss this with MRT Holdings or Bob Sobrepena? Come to think of it, the DOTC and LRTA wouldn’t have to go through all these legal and financial troubles at MRT3 if these agencies had only upheld the government’s BLT with MRTC and approved its November 2011 proposal to take over the train line (instead of toying around with its grandiose EVBO proposal that has been having great difficulty getting off the ground).

As a background DOTC is insisting that MRTC had failed to maintain the system, hence the frequent breakdowns. Records show, however, that it was the DOTC who chose the present maintenance provider, Autre Porte Technique Global Inc. (APT Global). The original maintenance provider was Sumitomo of Japan who subcontracted the service to TES Phils. For unknown reasons, the DOTC replaced Sumitomo when its contract expired, took over the maintenance of the MRT system in October 2012 and awarded the contract—without any public bidding and without submitting the terms of reference (TOR) to MRTC for its consideration and approval—to a joint venture between Philippine Trans Rail Management & Services Corp. and Comm Builders and Technology (PH Trams-CBT&T) and later to APT Global. Records show that the breakdowns and shortages of trains, which cause long lines at the train stations, started to occur only after the DOTC took over the maintenance of the system. Of the original 20 trains, only 16 are running regularly because of the lack of maintenance.

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Face to Face

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DOTC Sec. Joseph Emilio Abaya (left) makes a point while Fil-Estate Chairman Robert Sobrepena (right) lashes back as both answered questions from members of the Senate Blue Ribbon Sub-committee on Public Services at the Senate.

There was a lot of finger-pointing between the MRT Corporation (MRTC) and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Wednesday at the Senate hearing that tackled the problems that have been ailing the metro rail system. Among the issues raised was the controversial change in Metro Rail Transit-3’s (MRT-3) maintenance provider from its long-time contractor Sumitomo to current PH Trams-CB&T joint venture amid the various glitches and service interruptions that has been hitting the metro transport line.

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