Tugade: Payment for MRT coaches on hold till they‘re certified safe
The government will neither pay for nor allow the operation of 48 new China-made coaches for the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) until they are certified safe by a third party.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade made that statement on Thursday in response to charges that the Dalian trains were defective and would be unusable for the next three years.
He said an investigation was being conducted to determine whether they met safety standards.
“If they are not safe, I will not run them,” Tugade said at a news briefing on the sidelines of the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in Manila. “I may just use them for scrap metal. But certainly, I will not pay for them,”
The coaches, costing P3.8 billion, were ordered in 2013 by the transportation department from China’s Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Corp. during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.
“It’s better to have people cursing at me while they are sitting or standing up than if they were unable to do so in a hospital or the cemetery,” Tugade said in Filipino.
“I have instructed that, before any of the Dalian trains are to be run, I am asking my management group, headed by [Assistant Secretary for Rails] Cesar Chavez to get a certification from a third-party international that those trains are safe,” he said.
Asked whether his predecessor, Joseph Emilio Abaya, should be compelled to explain himself, Tugade said: “Everyone will be entitled to their day in court. When that moment in time will come, then so be it.”
He begged off from revealing details about the ramifications of the case, saying: “There can be repercussions on contractual arrangements and legal pursuits.”
Tugade stressed that it was still the government’s policy to honor contracts.
“But if along the way you find ‘hao shao’ (sham) arrangements that need to be rectified, handled and corrected, then they will be rectified, handled and corrected, but basically all contacts will be honored,” he said. /atm
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.