MANILA -- Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya on Tuesday said the government had earlier mulled buying secondhand coaches from Spain to expand the capacity of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT).
"The lure and attraction of it was quick delivery. There was promise that it could be delivered within 9 months. So we studied that," Abaya said in an interview on "[email protected]"
They did not push through with the purchase, however, citing questions on the quality of the trains.
He said the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) later on eventually opted for an "open and transparent" bidding for the MRT's capacity expansion project.
"At the end of the day, [there were] questions on can you purchase secondhand coaches or how good are they, or who would warranty quality secondhand coaches? Eventually, we went back...and decided to go with an open and transparent bidding," he said.
According to Abaya, the government is optimistic that the delivery of the 48 new MRT coaches being produced by the winning bidder, Chinese firm Dalian Locomotive, will be completed before President Benigno Aquino III ends his term in 2016.
"These are not tricycles that when you have the money, just go to the dealer, you could take it home then use it for business or livelihood," he said.
"We did a transparent bid, issued an award, issued a notice to proceed. We've given our down. Now we're waiting for delivery. Hopefully and thankfully, there is excess capacity on the side of the contractor. In terms of contract, they are required to deliver 18 months after signing. They said verbally they can deliver within a year... So hopefully within the term of the President, we can get all the 48," he added.
Meanwhile, Abaya said the DOTC is currently working with the Department of Finance (DOF) to buy out the remaining shares in the MRT.
He said the government buyout could take place as early as the third quarter this year.
He said the government has assessed that it would be better to buy out the remaining shares and then bid out MRT operations and maintenance.
"It should be just around the corner. In fact both DOTC and DOF are working on this, so there are funds in the budget. We are very interested in buying it out... Further expansion is much easier if government owns it," Abaya said.