MANILA, Philippines - Transportation and Communications Secretary Manual "Mar" Roxas said Friday he ordered the privatization of the operations of Light Rail Transit 1(LRT 1) and Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3) shelved to give way for a full study on whether government could keep control of the two railway systems.
Speaking to radio dzMM, Roxas said turning over the operations of LRT 1 and MRT 3 to the private sector still has no clear benefits for government.
"We have to make sure that we can't make it run. Who wouldn't want P3.5 billion a year for the operations and maintenance? May mga aberya pero anlaki ng pera. Hindi naman ito subcontract ng janitorial," he said.
He added: "I want to interview the heads of not just agencies but engineering. Hindi ba talaga natin kaya? What can private sector do that we can't?"
The P15 billion LRT-MRT operation and maintenance contract is the first of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects the Aquino administration was eyeing to bid out this year. If not for the resignation of former Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary Jose "Ping" de Jesus, bidding should push through as scheduled on July 11.
The government formally informed at least 16 bidders late June that the bid and award for the contract had been moved to a later date to give newly appointed Roxas more time to review the proposals.
Roxas said, however, that the "privatization has been stopped because it is unclear if it will benefit government."
Meanwhile, the new DOTC chief also raised questions on the North Luzon Railways (Northrail) contract, which he said, deviated from the original plan to provide a rail link from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark, Pampanga.
He said that under the current plan, a commuter must travel at least two hours from Caloocan to Clark Airport before he could board a flight.
He, however, noted that the railway is needed since NAIA is already at the borderline of safety on capacity of incoming and outgoing planes. He noted that the standard is 36-40 planes per hour or about a minute and a half per plane. "Right now, we are 40-46 per hour," he said.