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MRT’s 48 new coaches might become “fully-paid white elephant,” says solon

MRT3_Shaw2

A member of the House minority bloc claimed that the Aquino administration may have wasted P3.77 billion for 48 additional coaches for the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) because the government cannot buy out the private company that built the (MRT).

Kabataan partylist Rep. Terry Ridon said that the 48 new coaches acquired from China might become a “fully-paid white elephant” because the government has no power to take over the MRT3 operations, prompting the Sobrepena-led consortium to seek international arbitration in Singapore when the government attempted a takeover.

In an earlier House hearing, Ridon said the Department of Technology and Communications (DOTC) cannot provide lawmakers assurance that the new coaches could be attached to the MRT trains once they started arriving.

“The ultimate decision would not come from the government but from the Sobrepenas. The solution here is for the government to immediately buy out the Sobrepenas but Abaya claims it did not have the money to do so,” Ridon said in a news report.

“Without making sure it has the money to buy out the Sobrepenas first, the Aquino government decided to prioritize ordering new coaches and paid for the down payment despite the pending arbitration,” Ridon said.

He blamed Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, MRT general manager Al Vitangcol III and the leadership of the Aquino administration for not doing anything in the past three years to help lessen the long queues of the MRT.

The partylist representative also advised Vitangcol to go on-leave over the accusations against him by Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar that the former tried to extort $30 million from a Czech firm in exchange of contracts for the new coaches and maintenance of the MRT.

“There is a big possibility that the new coaches would end up being a white elephant and get stuck in the DOTC warehouses, even if the government has paid for them,” Ridon said.

“The DOTC tried to explain it during the committee hearing that, well, Sobrepeñas were not selling and that the government tried to proceed with the bidding to remedy the problem. It was a good sound byte, the government did something,” he said.

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