Arroyo Admin Responsible for MRT Problems – Pres. Aquino
For countless times, Pres. Aquino has again blamed the Arroyo administration for one of the major problems of the country today – the MRT. In a chance interview with the press during a recent visit to Davao, Aquino laments “There is a problem. But it is a problem that should have less problems attached to it, if certain things were done before we took over”.
While blaming the previous administration, Aquino has also admitted how the train system in Manila is already very old. The LRT Line 1, for instance, which runs from Monumento to Baclaran, was constructed in 1981. The MRT Line 3, on the other hand, was built in the middle of 1990s. While it has an original capacity of only 300,000 passengers per day, it is now accommodating up to half a million of passengers daily.
The Department of Transportation and Communication, through Secretary Emilio Abaya, has assured the public that there are major plans on its way for the purpose of improving the life of commuters in the metro. Among others, one that has been revealed is the plan to invest 10 billion pesos for improving its operations. The breakdown of the plan include purchase of 48 brand new trains, which will allow the MRT to serve up to 800,000 in a single day. The contract for this purchase has been awarded to CNR Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Co. from China.
Aside from the acquisition of new trains, the plan also include the awarding of a 2.2 billion-peso contract for the maintenance of the MRT, which is expected to last for three years. The deal with the previous contractor, Autre Potre Technique (APT) has already expired in Sept. 5, but they remain to be the contractor today until a new contract is awarded.
Plans to rehabilitate the train stations were also brought up. In fact, 50 million pesos will be used for the replacement of the old escalators and elevators. Additional footbridges will also be provided.
The MRT Challenge
Due to the popularity of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, netizens have been quick to urge government officials to take the MRT challenge. The premise is pretty simple. They would try to ride the train and see the problems being encountered by the majority of the Filipinos in their daily life as a commuter. DOTC Secretary Abaya, Presidential Spokespersons Abigail Valte and Edwin Lacierda, and Senator Grace Poe have already taken the challenge, which are expected to help them craft the next measures to improve the country’s mass transport system. The public hopes that the officials will do the challenge during rush hour so that they can have an actual feel of commuting, which is also expected to put an urgency on the rehabilitation efforts.
Amidst all of the efforts shown by government officials, different commuter groups are urging the relevant authorities to provide long-term and not Band-Aid solution to remedy the problem.