SHOULD Metro Rail Transit officials get the boot for the mishap that caused the injury of 36 commuters? If you ask Malacanang, they would rather keep their hands off this issue.
While Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary (DOTC) Joseph Emilio Abaya is busy promoting a term extension for President Noynoy Aquino, the Palace has deferred to make a comment on the fate of MRT execs “until the result of the DOTC investigation is known.
“You’re asking us, ‘Is there anything higher?’ but it’s an investigation. They investigated it. I think, there were technical concerns. There were issues they were in a better position to handle,” presidential spokesman Secretary Edwin Lacierda said in a news conference.
On Tuesday, Abaya said administrative charges will be filed against train operators and control center employees who supposedly committed errors that led to the overshooting of an MRT coach last week.
At least 36 passengers, including children and elderly, were hurt last Wednesday when an MRT coach rammed through a steel barricade at the Taft Avenue station in Pasay City.
The MRT 3 is operated by private firm Metro Rail Transit Corporation, in partnership with the DOTC.
Lacierda likewise reiterated the administration’s commitment to address MRT congestion.
“What we know, what we’re addressing, is the concern by the riding public on the MRT. The leadership and the DOTC are finding ways to ensure the safety of the riding public. The congestion is a concern for us,” Lacierda said.
“That’s why we’ve been working hard on the trains, coaches to be finished, so that we can expand the number of coaches in the MRT,” he added.
The MRT, which runs along EDSA from North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay City, currently ferries 560,000 passengers daily—way beyond its 320,000 design capacity. The trains and much of the rail system is about 15 years old.
Leaving the PH
Meanwhile, some train operators of the Metro Rail Transit and Light Rail Transit have chosen to work abroad, a television report said.
For LRT-1 alone, more than 50 train operators have already secured jobs in Singapore. Aside from their job experience, LRT operators in the Philippines are in demand because they can operate first, second, and third generation trains.
MRT and LRT train operators are contractual employees. But their contract is regularly renewed. They get paid around P20,000 plus benefits. The pay in other countries like Singapore could be three times higher.
The MRT and LRT managements said that there were enough train operators in the country. They also continue to hire and train. After the MRT’s recent derailment at the Taft Station in Pasay City, the train operators of the MRT will undergo retraining next week.
As a precaution, the MRT currently runs its trains at a slower speed from 50 kph to 40 kph.